The brother of the young country footballer who lost his life in a devastating on-field collision has remembered him as his “best friend” who will go on to save the lives of others as an organ donor.

20-year-old Antonio Loiacono was flown to the Royal Adelaide Hospital in critical condition following a horror collision that occurred during a game at Gymeracha Oval in the Adelaide Hills around 8 pm on April 22.

His younger brother and only sibling, Jack Loiacono, 19, said the young gun footballer sustained the injury as he went to pick up the ball.

“The hit was so intense he went into cardiac arrest on the spot. He wasn’t able to breathe for himself,” Jack said to NCA NewsWire.

The next day, April 23, Antonio was declared brain dead, but the family has been told he will go on to save two lives.

“Because he’s an organ donor, we still have some time left with him until later tonight,” Jack said.

“He’s saving a baby boy and a 19-year-old, so that’s good news.”

Antonio’s last selfless acts reflect how Jack will remember his brother.

“He just wanted to make sure everyone was having a positive time. He would wear the loudest shirt, the goofiest shoes. He was so unique,” Jack said.

“Everyone who knew him loved him. He was just the most respectful, loving and caring person.

“He lit up the room and put smiles on everyone’s faces when he walked in.”

Jack shared that it was “humbling” to find out his brother had died doing something he loved.

On the day of the incident, their mother watched Antoio play for his cherished Birdwood Football Club in their twilight game against Gumeracha Football Club. James was working at the time and his dad was in Sydney.

“He lived and breathed it,” Jack said of Antonio’s passion for footy.

Antonio had previously sustained several concussions as a result of playing football, leading him to hang up his boots when he was about 15.

“His last one which happened a few years ago was pretty bad. For a day or two, he had vomiting and memory loss but nothing as bad as this,” Jack said.

Jack also shared sweet memories with his brother on Facebook.

“Antonio, my other half, my best friend and the person I look up to most, words can’t describe the pain we all feel,” he wrote.

“Your aura was so special and would put a smile on anyone’s face.

Tributes have flown for Antonio as the extent of his injuries have been revealed.

The Great Southern Football League offered its “sincere condolences to the family and friends” of Mr Loiacono.

“Community football is what we live for and this is a truly sad time when a player is cut down by an unfortunate on-field incident, no matter what level of the game,” the league shared on Facebook.

Our collective thoughts are with his family and the Birdwood Football Club at this time of “unbelievable sadness”.

Adelaide Hills Mayor Jan-Claire Wisdom said her thoughts were “with Antonio’s family and friends today after the incident at Gumeracha oval on Saturday”.

“Our thoughts also go out to the Birdwood Football Club community who will be shocked and saddened by this tragic event,” she said.

Image credit: Facebook

This article first appeared on Over60.