Footballer passes away aged 24 after collapsing on pitch during game

Alex Apolinario has died aged 24 after he collapsed during a match in the Portuguese third tier on Sunday.

The Brazilian footballer was playing for FC Alverca against Uniao de Almeirim when he suffered a cardiac arrest.

He lost consciousness and fell to the ground shortly before the half an hour mark.

A defibrillator was used by on-site medics before the attacking midfielder was rushed to hospital.

Players, coaches and staff were left in tears and formed a prayer circle before news came through that Apolinario was in a stable condition on Sunday night.

However, the club confirmed on Thursday in a statement that the young player had tragically passed away.

A statement read: "It is with deep regret that we report, according to the information provided by the medical staff of the Vila Franca de Xira Hospital, the death by brain death of our athlete Alex Sandro dos Santos Apolinário, this morning.

"FC Alverca Futebol SAD will provide all the necessary support to their families. At this time of mourning all the activities of FC Alverca are canceled.”

After Sunday’s incident, a statement from the local emergency services read: "We received a warning at 11:30am to help a male victim at FC Alverca Sports Complex and two minutes later we drove two vehicles and four men to the stadium.

“The sooner the help is, the greater the likelihood and quality of life of survival.

“Now we are concerned about the recovery of the man and not the football player. We have confidence.”

Emergency services commander Alberto Fernandes said: "The resuscitation maneuvers continued in the vehicle that took him to the hospital.

"It was 25 minutes from the fall until the player left for the hospital.

"The doctors wanted to remove him stably.”

Apolinario, born in the state of Sao Paulo, made seven senior appearances for Brazilian outfit Cruzeiro after coming through their academy.

He moved to Alverca in 2019 and opened the scoring in a famous Taca de Portugal win over Sporting Lisbon that year.

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