World Incidents

Family of Emiliano Sala see him honoured in his home town as emotional tributes are paid at funeral

Tributes have been paid to footballer Emiliano Sala as his family, friends, fans and Cardiff City’s chief executive and manager attended his funeral in his home town.

Romina Sala, the player’s sister, was seen leaving her brother’s wake in Progreso in the Argentinian province of Santa Fe on Saturday.

A banner reading in Spanish “Emi, you will never walk alone” was in place in the town.

Nantes defender Nicolas Pallois, center left, and family and friends of Argentina soccer player Emiliano Sala carry Sala's coffin during his funeral

Cardiff manager Neil Warnock and chief executive Ken Choo both flew in to attend the funeral.

Mr Warnock said the day brought “tears to our eyes”.

“Emiliano’s father was the same, he was very emotional, brothers and sisters and then you look around the whole village is here and it’s like the whole village is part of it,” he said.

“I’ve never known anything like it.”

The 28-year-old striker died when the plane in which he was travelling crashed in the English Channel on January 21, just days after he had signed for Cardiff City in a record transfer deal for the Premier League side.

Sala’s body was pulled from the the wreckage on February 7.

A tribute at Cardiff City Stadium for Emiliano Sala

A public vigil held in the gymnasium of the Sala’s boyhood club San Martin de Progreso offered the public a space to honour him over several hours.

A fan held a shirt of Sala's former club Club Atletico Social San Martin.

The club posted an emotional tribute on Facebook earlier this week, saying the footballer would be “eternally in our hearts”, adding: “We are waiting for you… like the first day you left but this time to stay with us forever. You went and you are an example for everyone.”

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Te estamos esperando…. como el primer día que te fuiste pero esta vez para quedarte con nosotros para siempre. Fuiste y sos un ejemplo para todos. Eternamente en nuestros corazones… 🖤❤🖤

Posted by San Martin de Progreso on Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Sala was born in October 1990 at Esperanza, Santa Fe, Argentina.

At the opening of an inquest, his cause of death was given as “head and trunk injuries”.

The pilot of the plane, David Ibbotson, is still missing following the crash, and a fundraising campaign to restart the search for him has raised more than £240,000.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain earlier this week, his daughter Danielle said the family would not give up hope that he would be found.

“If you’ve got hope then you shouldn’t give up,” she said. “He wouldn’t stop searching for me.”

She added: “We still hope and pray and hope everyone keeps my dad in their prayers.”

Sala’s body was recovered in a privately funded search, which was launched after the initial search was called off three days after the men and their plane went missing.

Although Mr Ibbotson, 59, of Crowle, Lincolnshire, was not located, poor weather conditions meant a “difficult decision was taken to bring the overall operation to a close”, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch said.

The aircraft remains underwater off the coast of Guernsey in the English Channel.

The banner read: 'Emi, you will never walk alone.'

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