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Former clubs pay tribute to Sala a year after fatal crash

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ON THE first anniversary of Emiliano Sala’s death, his two former football clubs have paid tribute to him.

A portrait of Emiliano Sala is displayed at the front of St David’s Cathedral, Cardiff, yesterday when a service was held in memory of the Argentinian footballer, who died when the plane in which was travelling, piloted by David Ibbotson, crashed into the sea north of Alderney. (Picture by Jacob King/PA Wire)

The 28-year-old Argentinian footballer was a passenger aboard a light aircraft flying him from France to his new club in Wales. He was being piloted by David Ibbotson.

The plane went missing near Alderney on 21 January 2019. The wreckage was later found on the seabed, with the footballer’s body inside.

Sala had just signed to Cardiff City FC for £15m., after four years with FC Nantes.

The owner and board of Cardiff City Football Club issued a statement yesterday, stating that their thoughts were with the family and friends of the two men.

‘The pain they have been through over the last 12 months must be indescribable,’ they said.

‘To mark the anniversary we are welcoming supporters to lay floral tributes at the Fred Keenor Statue throughout the day.’

A service was held at St David’s Cathedral in Cardiff to remember the two men.

Bluebirds manager Neil Harris, captain Sean Morrison and centre-back Sol Bamba were among those to attend.

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An Argentinian flag was placed inside the cathedral and its national anthem played as tributes and prayers were led by the Archbishop of Cardiff George Stack.

Fans left flowers, banners and shirts in memory of Sala at the club.

Nantes FC also paid tribute to him, describing Sala as one of the darlings of La Beaujoire – the club’s ground.

‘Even today, a year after his disappearance, many have not forgotten any of this,’ they stated.

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They shared stories of club fans finding out about the footballer’s disappearance last year and the impact it had on them.

‘Although already very generous in his efforts for his yellow-and-green debut, the former Nantes striker took time to win the hearts of the supporters,’ the club said.

‘A follower of the club for years, Aurelien remembers. “At first, he was not necessarily appreciated because he was messy, he recalls. But over time, his progress was meteoric. He had become a real scorer, our scorer.”’

The loss of the footballer had a big effect on his family. Sala’s father, Horacio, died of a heart attack aged 58, just three months after the plane crash. His mother, Mercedes, said she was still struggling to find peace after the loss of her son.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has been investigating the cause of the crash and has already stated that there was evidence Sala suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning. It plans to publish its final report into the accident by the end of March.

Juliet Pouteaux

By Juliet Pouteaux
News reporter

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