Family speaks after footballer’s fatal clash
The family of an Adelaide footballer who died after anon-field collision has remembered the 20-year-old as an AFL-obsessed “larrikin”.
Antonio Loiacono died on Sunday after he suffered a fatal injury while he went to pick up the ball midgame during the first match of the 2023 season.
In a statement shared on Thursday, the family thanked the community for the “overwhelming support” had flooded in from people across Australia and the world.
They said the Adelaide tradie was a passionate footballer who had begun playing at just four years of age.
“Antonio loved football – the camaraderie of the players, their families, and the local country teams,” read the statement shared on Thursday.
“Antonio started playing Auskick when he was just four years old, and we are so thankful for the love and support we’ve received from the football community over the past few days.”
They remembered Mr Loiacono as a “larrikin” and said they took “comfort” in carrying out his wishes as an organ donor. The family added that even “in his death, others have been given the gift of life”.
“Antonio was a larrikin who had a gift for bringing people together, young and old, and brought light and life into every room,” they wrote.
“We feel so blessed that his spirit continues to unite the community, as he always did in life.”
After Saturday night’s game, Mr Loiacono was airlifted to the Royal Adelaide Hospital where he was declared brain dead at about 3pm on Sunday afternoon.
His 19-year-old brother, Jack Loiacono said: “The hit was so intense he went into cardiac arrest on the spot. He wasn’t able to breathe for himself”.
Since his death, Adelaide’s football community has rallied around the family and shared tributes of the young AFL player.
Honouring his death, a cross and flowers have been placed on the oval by local community organisations, including the Gumeracha RSL and the Gumeracha Football Club – which Mr Loiacono’s team was versing on Saturday.
Mr Loiacono had joined the local Birdwood Football Club just months before Saturday night’s tragic incident.
In a social media post, the club said that while “Antonio was only with our Club for a few months but his leadership and care for his new team will have a lasting impact”.