Beds, Herts & Bucks

Aylesbury goalkeeper, 14, dies after match injury

Luca Campanaro Image copyright Joanne Campanaro
Image caption Luca Campanaro was fatally injured while playing in goal for Bedgrove Dynamos

A 14-year-old goalkeeper has died after he was injured in a "freak accident" involving another player at a youth football match.

Luca Campanaro, a Bedgrove Dynamos player from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, was hurt at an away match in Hillingdon, west London on Sunday.

He was airlifted to the Royal London Hospital where he died on Monday.

Luca's father, Americo Campanaro, said: "I feel like my heart has been ripped out."

Mr Campanaro added: "He was a big lad, a big unit, that's why he was a goalkeeper, with a big heart to match. A gentle giant."

He said his son was "very popular" and would "do anything for anyone".

The teenager had been playing an under-15 match against Harefield United when he collided with another player and Mr Campanaro said: "No one is to blame, I feel sorry for the other lad.

"What happened on Sunday was a freak accident, but [Luca] went doing what he loved."

Luca's 70-year-old grandfather Gerard Conroy, a former RAF nurse, rushed on to the pitch to help the teenager when he was injured.

Image copyright Americo Campanaro
Image caption Americo Campanaro said his son "just loved the game"

A statement released by his club on Monday said: "We are deeply saddened to have to announce that a young player from the club sadly passed away this afternoon after being involved in a collision during a youth match on Sunday 9th December.

"Our thoughts are with Luca's family and loved ones at this distressing time.

"We also offer our heartfelt condolences to his teammates and all associated with the club as we now try to come to terms with the tragic loss of our friend and teammate.

"With the family's approval we will be honouring our weekend fixtures with a minute's applause to celebrate the life of this fantastic young man."

His stepfather Adam Keedle described Luca as an "amazing young man and a real loss to the world" and said he could not offer "enough" praise to the medical staff who treated him at the scene and in hospital.

Image copyright Bedgrove Dynamos FC
Image caption Luca was an "avid" Tottenham fan

Close family friend Dave Garricks has set up a JustGiving page to raise funds for the family. It currently stands at more than £13,000.

"I am shocked. It's no life at 14 to be taken," he said.

He described The Mandeville School pupil as a dedicated footballer who loved the game and was an avid Tottenham Hotspur fan.

In a statement, his school said he had been studying for his GCSEs and a member of staff said he was "on course for achieving excellent results".

Andria Hanham, his school principal, added: "There are no words to describe how we feel in losing Luca from our school community. He was an extremely popular boy and well-liked by his peers and staff."

Harefield United said in a statement everyone was "devastated" by the news.

Club secretary Ray Green said those involved in the match would be receiving support.

"The first team are at home on 22 December. We are going to have a pay what you want entry and all the gate money will go toward fundraising [for Luca's family]," he added.

Mr Campanaro said his son's organs would be donated and that "four lives are going to be saved because of Luca".

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