Argentine striker Emiliano Sala, who died in a plane crash last month, would have thrived in the Premier League with Cardiff City, the club’s manager Neil Warnock said on Friday. Sala joined Cardiff in January and was flying to the Welsh city from his former French club Nantes when his plane disappeared over the sea on January 21.
Authorities abandoned the search for the plane three days later but a privately-funded underwater search found the wreckage on Sunday and a body retrieved was formally identified on Thursday as Sala’s. “I always thought he was a type of player that would score 10 or 15 for me at the top level every year. But not just that, he would work hard as a team player,” Warnock told reporters ahead of Saturday’s Premier League trip to Southampton.
“He was at the prime, I felt, and he knew he had things to prove. He’d been in a comfort zone in France, he’d improved every year. “I think he was ready, if a little bit fearful of the challenge ahead.”
Warnock said Cardiff had asked the Premier League to wear shirts with a yellow daffodil to pay tribute to Sala and David Ibbotson, the pilot of the aircraft. “When something like this happens it brings all the football family together. It’s a loss to everyone in football,” Warnock added.
“I know we’re the closest, but when you see the response from world-class players and the amount of money they were able to raise (to resume the search for the wreckage) in the space of a few hours, it was amazing.”
Clubs in France’s Ligue 1 and 2, where Sala played for the majority of his career, will hold a minute’s applause before this weekend’s matches in his memory.
French League to pay tribute to Sala with minute’s applause
All Ligue 1 and 2 games this weekend will hold a minute’s applause before kickoff in memory of former Nantes player Emiliano Sala, whose body has been retrieved from the wreckage of a crashed plane in the English Channel, the French League said on Friday. Argentine Sala, 28, had been flying from Nantes in western France to Wales on Jan. 21 after signing for Premier League team Cardiff City when the single-engined Piper Malibu aircraft disappeared over the sea.
Wreckage was found on Sunday following a privately-funded underwater search and a body recovered on Wednesday and taken to southern England. “Tonight and during the whole weekend, we will all be united in paying a last tribute to Emiliano before the matches kick off,” LFP President Nathalie Boy de la Tour said in a statement.
His former club Nantes said in a statement that Sala would “forever be part of the legends who wrote the story of FC Nantes”.
“I can’t find the words. It’s a tragedy, I’m devastated. This is why, like may fans, I wish to honour him again by taking out the number 9 (on Nantes shirts),” president Waldemar Kita added.