"I owe him more than a dinner, I owe him my life."
Those were the words of football icon Wynton Rufer when he returned to the spot where he suffered a heart attack last month to meet the stranger who saved his life.
"You look a lot better than last time," said Nick Moss as the two men shook hands and embraced yesterday.
Rufer, the part Swiss, part Maori former football star, turned to the camera, gave a cheeky wink and said: "He's my saviour."
It was this really weird situation you don't expect to rock up on
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"I owe him more than a dinner, I owe him my life. I had basically five minutes to get oxygen going to the head and Nick basically kept me alive, and thanks to Nick I am still here today," Rufer said.
The 56-year-old was on his way home to Parnell after watching the Breakers at Spark Arena on January 6 with a friend from Bremen in Germany when he suffered a heart attack.
The friends were coming up a hill on Lime scooters at walking pace when Rufer passed out and crashed to the ground. His next memory was waking up in hospital.
Moss was on his way to the ASB Classic tennis tournament with a friend when he came up the street and saw several people standing in the street, including a woman, one hand on a phone and the other hand pushing on Rufer's chest.
"I could see he was in a pretty bad way," said the 35-year-old terminal manager for Air Chathams who had completed a first aid course three months earlier.
Moss said the woman was on the phone to the ambulance. He told her to focus on getting an ambulance and took over giving Rufer CPR.
"He wasn't breathing at this stage and there was no obvious sign of a pulse. I started doing chest compressions across the centre of the chest, 30 compressions and then two breaths through the mouth. I think in the craziness of the moment I might have done one [but] I think we got you through.
"It was this really weird situation you don't expect to rock up on," Moss said.
Since coming out of hospital after the accident, Rufer had started walking 30 minutes a day and the scabs on his calves, where he had skin grafts as a result of three shots of electric current on a defibrillator, looked to be healing.
Unfortunately a few weeks ago, his calves inflamed around the edges and he ended up in the burn unit at Middlemore Hospital for a week where he also picked up pneumonia and later a chest cold. On the positive side, he lost 5kg.
Rufer, who played for the All Whites at the 1982 World Cup in Spain and went on to become a professional player in Switzerland and Germany for more than a decade, hopes his experience can serve as a warning to others about heart disease.
Doctors suspected genetics played a part in his heart attack. His father was Swiss with a family history of living to 95 and his Maori mother had a triple bypass when she was 52.
Rufer said he was a reasonably fit person. His message to people was don't drink too much, don't smoke too much, have a good diet and exercise.
"Heart disease is the biggest killer of New Zealanders."