ALEX Apolinario’s brother has revealed he witnessed the tragic moment he collapsed after the footballer encouraged him to watch him play on his club’s live feed.
The Brazilian, 24, died on Thursday after suffering a cardiac arrest and falling to the ground during his match on Sunday near Lisbon.
The dad-of-two was playing for Portuguese third tier side FC Alverca against Union de Almeirim.
In the 27th-minute of the clash, TV cameras captured him losing consciousness and collapsing.
Medics got his heart beating again in the back of an ambulance after using a defibrillator on the pitch.
But, following reports his brain had been deprived of oxygen for more than six minutes, his club confirmed on Instagram he had lost his four-day fight for life.
On Friday, Alex’s brother Fabricio dos Santos Apolinario told how he was watching the drama unfold from his home in Luis Antonio near Sao Paulo.
He told Brazilian press: “He hadn’t played well in the previous game and he sent me a message saying he was looking forward to the match and was going to perform better.
“He told me to get up early because the game was going to start at 8am Brazilian time.
“I logged onto the internet and was watching and what I saw seemed like a nightmare, I couldn’t believe it.”
Fabricio, the eldest of Alex’s parents' three children, added: “He was a sensational person with a good character, very happy.
“It’s been a real shock. We lost our grandmother only three months ago and Alex couldn’t come to the funeral.
Alex’s mother Vania Apolinario added: “I’m trying to stay strong and I'm taking sedatives… I’ve got two other children to care for.
“I’m going to miss Alex so much. The pain will never leave me.
"The idea of seeing him come home in a coffin horrifies me. My heart is broken.
“I feel so much for the two children he’s left behind, the wife that he loved. He always helped us and supported us.”
The footballer’s family in Brazil spoke of their grief as photos emerged of him as a dedicated family man with his wife Ariane Nobrega and his two children Nicolas, five, and Antonella, two.
One he posted on social media showed him in bed with one of his youngsters cuddling up to him on the pillow.
In another he proudly held Antonella in his arms as his wife put her arms round their son.
Striker Alex was in his third season with FC Alverca after starting his career at Botafogo FC near Sao Paulo before signing with Cruzeiro in 2015.
He was being treated at Vila Franca de Xira Hospital around an hour’s drive north of Lisbon.
In a statement, his club said: “FC Alverca will provide all the necessary support to the family.
"At this time of mourning, all FC Alverca activities have been cancelled.”
His funeral is due to take place in his native municipality of Luis Antonio.
Alex’s brother Fabricio said they had been told his body could take up to seven days to arrive.
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