Just three days after he signed for Premier League club Cardiff City, Emiliano Sala was on a light aircraft that went missing over the English Channel on 21 January.
Dorset Police on Thursday night confirmed the 28-year-old’s body had been recovered from the wreckage, which was found on Sunday morning.
At 28, Emiliano Sala, whose death in a light aircraft crash has been announced, had just reached football maturity, and his move to Cardiff was shaping up to be a thrilling adventure.
The transfer marked belated recognition for a player who might have been imperfect technically but who was physical, courageous – and endearing.
On the pitch, he was confrontational; off it, he led a quiet life.
He loved detective novels and would never go to an away game without taking a book. He played guitar too but took that up quite late, and usually preferred to leave it at home.
A common morning sight in Nantes was Sala, seated at a table outside a cafe with his labrador Naja curled up at his feet.
Destiny is cruel.
Fans of Nantes football club spent the whole of January hoping – rumour had it that Sala didn’t really want to leave for Cardiff. His coach, Vahid Halilhodzic, had rekindled his career last October following a long period of struggle under former manager Miguel Cardoso and refused to discuss the possibility of his striker leaving.
Halilhodzic – himself a former centre-forward at Nantes – had decided his mission was to relaunch the Argentine player, whose role model since childhood had been the legendary striker Gabriel Batistuta.
“He’s a sensitive young man; he needs to feel confident, so the priority was to help him believe in himself. Only after that could we talk, striker-to-striker,” said Halilhodzic.
Sala confirmed: “The club was ready to sell me to Galatasaray, but I held on tight. I have no regrets, because Vahid and I talk a lot, and I’m steadily improving.” (BBC)