The footy star who tragically died aged just 20 after a horror collision on the pitch in South Australia suffered two ‘really bad’ concussions and as a result his parents wouldn’t let him play Aussie Rules, his brother has revealed.
Antonio Loiacono was playing for the Birdwood Football Club in South Australia’s Hills Football League on Saturday when he suffered critical injuries from a collision in the fourth quarter.
He was treated by specialist paramedics at Gumeracha Oval, 35 km north-east of Adelaide, and his heart stopped for 30 minutes.
After being brought back to life, he was flown by helicopter to the Royal Adelaide Hospital late Saturday night, but tragically he was pronounced brain dead at 3pm on Sunday.
Jack Loiacono (pictured right with his brother Antonio) said their parents told his brother to stop playing football after he suffered two ‘really bad’ concussions on the pitch
Jack (left) has called on Aussie Rules to do more to protect players like Jack (right) from the effects of headbutts and speculated an ‘underlying problem’ could be behind his tragic death after a match on Saturday
His heartbroken 19-year-old younger brother Jack Loiacono said the Adelaide tradie suffered the critical injury when he went to collect the ball in the side’s match against Gumeracha.
It remains unclear why the 20-year-old went into cardiac arrest.
Now Jack has chronicled Antonio’s history of headbutts and called for the sport to do more to protect players from the effects of concussions.
“He’s had a few concussions in the past,” Jack told the Adelaide advertiseradding that two of them were “really bad” and one “mild.”
“Two or three years ago he stopped playing football because of his last head blow and our parents wouldn’t let him (play) but once he was old enough he wanted to make his own decisions and went back to the game.
He made one of his own decisions and it backfired. All the doctors there who attended to him advised him to absolutely not get back in it.
“Everyone sort of tried to stop him.”
Loiacono, pictured playing for country footy club Waikerie, was injured during a match for Birdwood at Gumeracha Oval, Adelaide Hills region
Jack explained that Antonio was never diagnosed with a health condition as a result of the concussion, but he said, “The knock he received was so intense that he immediately went into cardiac arrest before he hit the ground”.
“There must have been an underlying problem,” he said.
“They (the sport) need to nip it in the bud.”
However, the tragedy had one silver lining: the family was told that because Antonio was an organ donor, he will save two lives, including that of a baby.
“Because he’s an organ donor, we’ll have some time with him until later tonight,” Jack said.
“He’s saving a boy and a 19-year-old, so that’s good news.”
Jack took to social media on Monday to share his anguish about the brother he called “my other half, my best friend and the person I look up to the most.”
Antonio’s death has a silver lining: the 20-year-old was an organ donor and he will now save two lives, including that of a baby
“Words cannot describe the pain we all feel, you are loved by so many. You will always be in my heart and I will talk to you every day,” he wrote.
“Your aura was so special and put a smile on everyone’s face around him. You are the most caring, considerate person I have come across and have always looked after me.
“I am so grateful for all you have done and helped me, you are my guidance and always will be. Everything I do from today is for you; I love your ‘Show’ so much.’
If anything, Loiacono was the beloved, bubbly 20-year-old South Australian.
His social media pages show a young man with a zest for life and a love of travel, music, friends and of course footy.