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Old 23-01-19, 23:16   #1
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Soccer Emiliano Sala Poisoned Before Fatal Plane Crash

Emiliano Sala's Chilling Last Audio Message as He Feared 'Plane was About to Fall Apart'
Search Team Finds 'Floating Objects' in Hunt for Cardiff City Star's Missing Plane: Aircraft Vanished After 15m Footballer 'Told Players of His Worry' About Flight to Wales Following 'Bumpy' Ride to France

  • Premier League footballer Emiliano Sala was one of two people on the Piper Malibu missing off Alderney
  • Cardiff City FC are 'very distressed' about the Argentine striker who signed record 15m deal on Saturday
  • 28-year-old forward had left Nantes yesterday evening to travel to Cardiff to report for training this morning
  • Sala posted photo on Instagram saying his 'last goodbye' to former teammates hours before plane vanished
  • His mother and father are 'desperate' for news about their missing son who was excited about his transfer
  • Search was called off overnight at 5pm as authorities said survival chances for anyone in the water was 'slim'

AP/Daily Mail UK 23 JAN 2019.

The Cardiff City striker is still missing and feared dead after his plane disappeared over the English Channel on Monday night

Emiliano Sala told his former Nantes teammate he 'feared for his safety' before he took off on his doomed flight across the English Channel.

Rescue workers searching for the Premier League footballer have said they are not expecting to find any survivors after his plane vanished on Monday night and Guernsey Police said that the chances of survival were 'slim'.

The Argentine striker completed a 15million move to Cardiff City on Saturday before returning to France to bid farewell to his old squad at Ligue 1 side Nantes, posting a poignant photo alongside the words, 'The last goodbye'.

Sala was making a round trip in the same plane and when he arrived in France, he reportedly told ex-teammate Nicolas Pallois - who drove him back to Nantes-Atlantiqe airport - that the trip out 'had been bumpy and he feared his safety for the journey back.'

The 28-year-old was due to return to Wales in time for training this morning but the Piper Malibu aircraft he was in lost contact near the Casquets lighthouse off Alderney at 8.30pm on Monday night.

Cardiff City chief executive Ken Choo said everyone at the club was 'very distressed' and 'praying for positive news.'

Sala posted this photograph to social media last year, and regularly kept fans updated with his training. Friends said he was 'fulfilling the dream of a lifetime' by moving to the UK, and 'could not wait to start playing in Cardiff'

Emiliano Sala and Ken Choo CEO on January 18 at the Cardiff club as the striker got set to sign his three-and-a-half-year contact

Flowers have been left at the base of the statue of Cardiff City footballer Frederick Charles Keenor outside Cardiff City Football Club

Thousands of people have joined vigils in France and in Wales, and have laid wreaths outside Sala's former club in Nantes and new club in Cardiff.


Flowers, scarves, signs and candles have been left outside the Cardiff City ground for Emiliano Sala, as the day's air and sea rescue efforts came to an overnight pause without result

Welsh daffodils have been laid outside the Cardiff City ground in Wales as the team suspended training today

In Nantes, in western France, where Sala has played since 2015, the flag of his native Argentina sat side by side with yellow tulips and candles

Nantes fans came to the ground tonight to hold a vigil for their missing former player Emiliano Sala, in the hopes an air and sea rescue mission might still report good news. A coastguard spokesman said it had found 'debris' but no signs of the footballer or his pilot

Outside the stadium in Nantes many fans held up Sala's number 9 shirt. He had returned to bid farewell to his former team mates before starting a new chapter of his career in the U

Supporters proudly held flags and scarves aloft as they paid tribute to Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala in Nantes

Tearful fans held scarves and candles tonight in Nantes as the Channel Islands called off their S&R mission overnight when darkness fell. It is due to start again tomorrow but officials said hopes of survival in the cold water was 'slim'

John Fitzgerald, chief officer of the Channel Islands Air Search, said he was not optimistic about finding Sala and the pilot. Pictured, the search off Alderney

'The Last Goodbye': Emiliano Sala posted this photograph on Instagram yesterday, bidding farewell to his old teammates at Nantes Football Club, after he signed a record 15million contract with Cardiff City FC

Speaking from Argentina, Sala's father Horacio said he was 'desperate' for news, and broke down in tears as he described him as a 'small town humble boy', adding: 'I just can't believe it.'

In an emotional statement the footballer's mother, Mercedes Taffarel, said her son was 'enjoying the best moment of his career so far.'

John Fitzgerald, chief officer of the Channel Islands Air Search, said he was not optimistic about finding Sala and the pilot.

He said: 'I don't think the coastguard are either. We just don't know how it disappeared. It just completely vanished. There was no radio conversation'.

French police, the French civil aviation authority and Nantes Football Club confirmed that Sala was one of the two people on board the Piper Malibu which lost contact near the Casquets lighthouse off Alderney at 8.30pm last night.

The Piper Malibu was flying at some 2,300ft and requested descent as it passed Guernsey but was lost off radar as Jersey air traffic control attempted to make contact.

It went missing as severe weather warnings about snow and ice were issued across France.

The official Nantes FC Twitter account posted a statement and a message to their followers about the missing striker, reading: 'The management and the whole Club are hopeful and it is the whole family of FC Nantes who prays that @EmilianoSala1 and the other passengers of the plane are finally found safe and sound,' read a tweet on the official account.

'FC Nantes joins the call of supporters for the rally tonight from 6.30 pm at the Royal Place in Nantes to drop a yellow tulip at the foot of the fountain,' they added in a second tweet.

The club later changed its profile picture to a photo of Sala.

Sala's former teammate, French Guingamp midfielder Lucas Deaux, tweeted: 'I hope from the bottom of my heart that this is not true.'

So far more than 1,155 square miles have been covered in the search for the missing aircraft.

Mr Fitzgerald said there could be a 'five per cent' chance of finding Sala and the pilot. He said: 'I think with the sea temperatures and the sea conditions the chances of finding anybody alive are reducing all the time.

'The sea temperatures are very, very cold and just sap the core temperature of anybody in the water very, very quickly.'

Sala was 'fulfilling the dream of a lifetime' by moving to the UK, and 'could not wait to start playing in Cardiff', according to a friend in France.

When he left the grounds yesterday to head to Cardiff, Nantes FC tweeted: 'Merci Emi, forever yellow and green.'

After joining Cardiff on Saturday, Sala's sister Romina proudly shared the news story about his signing, saying: 'Big brother '.

His father Horacio told Argentine channel C5N he was made aware of the news by a friend.

He said: 'A friend called me and told me what had happened. I'm in Rosario now, I'm working because I'm a truck driver. I didn't know anything. I just can't believe it. I'm desperate. I don't know what could have happened.'

He said striker Emiliano, from the small town of Progreso in Argentina's northeastern Santa Fe province, had been excited to be moving to Cardiff and playing in the Premier League.

He added: 'To get the chance to play at a big European club was an amazing step for him and for his town back home. He is a humble small town boy. Everybody is watching the TV and waiting. Hopefully some good news arrives.'

His mother, Mercedes Taffarel, told the same TV station: 'We don't have any more news. The only thing I know is that the plane took off and they are searching for it, we don't know anything yet, they haven't found anything.

We are just here waiting, minute after minute. I spoke to him a few hours before he took off. I don't know what else to say, I'm so worried.

'They called me from France to tell me that his plane had gone missing and they were looking for him.

'We are in constant communication and desperate for good news. He was very happy and content with the transfer. He was enjoying the best moment of his career so far.

'He would come over often to visit us, and we would go to visit him there. He was alone, he didn't have any family members with him in France.'

In a statement this evening Guernsey Police said: 'During the course of the 15-hour search, which used multiple air and sea assets from the Channel Islands, UK and France, a number of floating objects have been seen in the water.

'We have been unable to confirm whether any of these are from the missing aircraft. We have found no signs of those on board. If they did land on the water, the chances of survival are at this stage, unfortunately, slim. Two planes and a lifeboat are still searching. A decision about an overnight search will be taken shortly.

The Premier League club had signed Sala on a three-and-a-half-year contact on Saturday.

Nantes have announced their French Cup match due to be staged tonight against L'Entente Sannois Saint-Gratien has been postponed in agreement with the French Football Federation.

Amine Harit, a Moroccan footballer who played with Sala at Nantes before joining German side FC Schalke in 2017, suggested he was praying for the missing player in a tweet.

He wrote simply 'Emi..' followed by a string of praying hands and crying emojis.

Nantes forward Randal Kolo-Muani retweeted Harit's message on his personal account.

Sala is immensely close to his family in Argentina, and spoke to his mother who still lives there 'most days', but still believed his destiny was in Britain.

He's in touch with his family all the time, mainly on WhatsApp,' said the Brittany-based source.

'His mum often visits, along with his brother and sister. He's very loyal to them all, as he is to everybody.

'The English Premiership was his dream, though. Emiliano is also very religious.

'He prays a lot. His Catholic faith is very important to him.'

Speaking on TV channel CNEWS, Nantes President Waldemar Kita said today: 'I think that he came back because he wanted to say goodbye to his friends.

'He was a polite, kind and adorable boy, loved by everyone. He was very respectful, very courteous.

'I am thinking about his family and all his friends. For the rest, we don't know yet.

'I am still hoping that it is not finished, that he is somewhere, that he will be there. I have just found about this.

'I was not even aware that he was at Nantes. He is no longer owned by Nantes, he does what he wants.

'And I say that because I am still hopeful that we will find him.'

Sala was grew up in Progeso, an Argentine town with only 3000 inhabitants in Santa Fe province, in the centre east of the country.

'As a kid, I watched a lot of the English championship on TV,' he said in a recent interview in France.

Referring to two retired French players, Sala said: 'I liked Arsenal, with Thierry Henry and Robert Pires.'

Sala has a younger brother and sister in Argentina. The brother works as an electrician, and the sister works in a care home.

He left home when he was 15 to become a professional footballer, but is immensely loyal to his roots.

Sala could have been set to make his debut at the Emirates against Arsenal on
29 January.

Speaking on Saturday after signing for the Bluebirds, Sala said: 'I can't wait to start training, meet my new team-mates and get down to work.'

Also, speaking at the time of the unveiling, CEO & Executive Director, Ken Choo, added: 'It's obviously been a long process to secure the services of Emiliano, but I'm very pleased that we're now in a position whereby we can confirm his signature and officially announce him as a Cardiff City player.

'We see Emiliano as a significant acquisition and welcome him wholeheartedly to the Capital city of Wales. I'm sure all Cardiff City fans will join me in that and we can look forward to seeing our record signing in a Bluebirds shirt.'

Before switching to Cardiff, Sala was the third highest scorer in Ligue 1 this season with 12 goals, behind only Kylian Mbappe and Nicolas Pepe.

A Piper Malibu light aircraft. A plane of this model is believed to have lost contact at 8.30pm

This graphic shows the lifeboat circling Alderney, in the ongoing search for the aircraft

The footballer's mother, Mercedes Taffarel, said her son was 'enjoying the best moment of his career so far.' Sala posted this image of himself with his mother alongside the caption, 'Thank you mum'

RIP Sala

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