Emiliano Sala was flying from his previous club Nantes in France to Wales club Cardiff City on Jan 21st, to make his debut for the Premier League when the single-engined aircraft disappeared over the sea.
The Argentine footballer who has been missing for two weeks was confirmed dead after his body was identified. The Body recovered by British investigators from the submerged wreckage of a plane that went down in the Channel has been identified as that of footballer Emiliano Sala, the Dorset police announced. Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), which recovered the body, said that bad weather in the busy shipping thoroughfare meant it was unable to recover the plane and as a result was closing down the operation.
“The body brought to Portland Port today… has been formally identified by HM Coroner for Dorset as that of professional footballer Emiliano Sala,” the police statement 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.”
Cardiff posted the statement on their website.
“We offer our most heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the family of Emiliano. He and David will forever remain in our thoughts,” the Welsh club said.
Emiliano Sala: “Dad, I’m really scared”
— Daniel (@lufungulod) January 23, 2019
Although many French and British experts in rescue operations at sea warned about the almost nil possibilities of finding Emiliano Sala alive, due to the high risks of hypothermia when the temperature is currently at zero degrees in neighboring Normandy. Some information have been recorded about the circumstances of the drama, like an audio message from WhatsApp sent by Sala to his friends before the trail of the plane was lost.
“I’m here on top of the plane, which seems to be falling apart and I’m going to Cardiff,”
said the 28-year-old striker, who had just signed for the Premier League club(a transfer of £18m) after highlighting in the French League, where he scored 12 goals this season.
“If in an hour and a half they have no news of mine, I do not know if they are going to send someone to look for me because they will not find me. Dad, I’m really scared,” Sala added, with the background noise of the plane.
The search planes seem to be back over land, does that mean they have found Sala and the rest on the aircraft? Or are they going back for fuel @CardiffCityCCFC @nantesfans @EmilianoSala1 #cardiff #sala #Nantes pic.twitter.com/6aNip1ZDq8
— Connor Horget (@conniehorget) January 22, 2019
Guernsey police was able to establish the identity of the pilot in charge of taking the Italian-Argentine footballer to the Welsh capital, on Monday night, hours after Emiliano Sala had collected his last belongings at Nantes, the club in which he played as a striker since the summer of 2016, and had said goodbye, with laughter and some tears, from his former team-mates. The pilot is David Ibbotson, a 60-year-old Englishman, father of three children, and an engineer by profession. According to the French press, he drove planes for parachute jumping clubs in his spare time.
There is a new Sala in town @premierleague 😎 Very happy to sign here @cardiffcityfc !! I know the challenge is big but together we will make it 🙌
Impatient to discover the league & the team #BlueBirds pic.twitter.com/OiNQUpBpiB
— Emiliano Sala (@EmilianoSala1) January 19, 2019
The private plane that took Emiliano Sala de Nantes to the capital of Wales was not booked by Cardiff, as was speculated. Mehmet Dalman the club president, in an interview with “Wales Online”, assured that he had no involvement in the preservation of the aircraft.
“Actually, we’re trying to figure out what happened. The club is investigating the matter and we want to find answers as well,” he added.
Mehmet Dalman also said that the club offered aid to the Argentine to organize his trip from Nantes to Cardiff and that, had he done so, would have been on a commercial flight.
“I cannot say who arranged the flight because I know nothing at the moment, but it certainly was not Cardiff,” he said.