Britain Missing Plane Sala
Britain Missing Plane Sala

Missing star confirmed dead as body identified

A body recovered from a plane which crashed in the English Channel has been formally identified as Cardiff striker Emiliano Sala.

Dorset Police said the families of Sala and the pilot David Ibbotson had been informed.

In a statement on Thursday night, police said: "The families of Mr Sala and the pilot David Ibbotson have been updated with this news and will continue to be supported by specially trained family liaison officers.

"Our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time.

"HM Coroner will continue to investigate the circumstances of this death supported by Dorset Police."

Sala, who had just signed with English Premier League club Cardiff, and pilot David Ibbotson were the only people on-board the small aircraft that disappeared over the English Channel last month.

Investigators have not been able to recover the aircraft, which was flying from Nantes to Cardiff after Sala transferred from the French city's team.

 

A TRAGIC TALE

Emiliano Sala had just earned the biggest move of his career when he died at the age of 28.

The Argentinian was flying from Nantes to Cardiff on January 21 when the light aircraft he was aboard ran in to trouble over the English Channel close to Guernsey.

It was supposed to be a flight taking him to a new life as a Premier League striker - Cardiff's record signing and the man they hoped would fire them away from trouble in the fight against relegation.

Sala, who was unmarried, had only completed the details of his transfer two days earlier before returning to France to bidfarewell to his Nantes teammates. The move to Cardiff had been reward for a player who was enjoying the best form of his career.

Taken too soon: Emiliano Sala gives the thumbs up to fans while playing for Nantes. Picture: AP
Taken too soon: Emiliano Sala gives the thumbs up to fans while playing for Nantes. Picture: AP

Born in Santa Fe, in northeastern Argentina, in 1990, to parents Horacio and Mercedes, his father a van driver, Sala dreamt of following in the footsteps of Gabriel Batistuta.

The Independiente fan played at youth level for Club Proyecto Crecer, a footballing academy aimed at developing young players with the potential to play in Europe.

Despite eventually heading to France and signing for Bordeaux in 2010, it would be two years before Sala, a player always looking to strike on the counter attack, made his senior debut in February 2012.

A series of loan spells followed, Sala playing for Orleans, Niort and Caen, where he demonstrated his eye for goal.

It was his performances for Caen which persuaded Nantes to sign him in the summer of 2015, and it was in Brittany where his career began to flourish. Sala scored 42 goals for the Canaries, and was enjoying his best season yet this campaign, having bagged 12 goals in 16 Ligue 1 appearances.

A hat-trick against Toulouse in October was the first by any Nantes player in Ligue 1 since Mamadou Diallo's 2006 treble, and his goals accounted for almost half of Nantes' tally of 26.

Cardiff were convinced Sala - a keen guitarist and renowned bookworm, losing himself in crime and drama fiction not to mention Chinese philosophy - could be the answer to their own woes in front of goal.

Cardiff's deal to sign Sala was worth in the region of APS15million ($A27 million), breaking the previous record of APS11million ($A20 million) paid for Gary Medel in 2013.

In order to gain his signature the Bluebirds had to fend off a late big-money bid from China, but Sala was keen to play in the Premier League.

He never got the chance, his career cut short just as it looked set to reach its peak.

 

 

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