Fellow footballing stars have paid tribute to Emiliano Sala after his body was recovered from the English Channel and formally identified.
News of the striker’s death came almost three weeks after his plane crashed en route from Nantes, France, to Cardiff.
The 28-year-old had only completed the details of his transfer to Cardiff City – for a club record £15 million – two days before the crash.
Club Statement (07/02/19): https://t.co/ib8zJfWzvC
Forever in our thoughts 💙
— Cardiff City FC (@CardiffCityFC) February 7, 2019
The club said in a statement: “We offer our most heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the family of Emiliano.
“He and David will forever remain in our thoughts.”
Despite not getting the chance to play for Cardiff, several of his new team-mates shared their sadness at the news of his death.
Joe Bennett said simply: “RIP Emiliano”, alongside several heart emojis, while Sol Bamba described the news as “tragic”.
💛💙😪 RIP Emiliano ❤
— Joe Bennett (@JoeBennett27) February 7, 2019
Tragic… May you rest in peace. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/ybrax86w1t
— Sol Bamba (@Sol14Bamba) February 7, 2019
Oumar Niasse tweeted: “RIP @EmilianoSala1 Forever in our thoughts”.
— Oumar Niasse (@niassebayeoumar) February 7, 2019
Diego Maradona, who was among those to call on authorities not to give up trying to find the footballer, posted a tribute on Instagram.
He told how many had kept a “light of hope” for the footballer, adding: “I send a big hug to your family and friends”.
View this post on Instagram
Lamento muchísimo esta noticia tan triste. Muchos guardábamos una luz de esperanza por vos, Emiliano. Le mando un abrazo muy grande a tus familiares y amigos, y agradezco en nombre de los argentinos el respeto de los colegas e hinchas de todas partes del mundo. Hasta siempre Emiliano! #RecenPorSala #PrayForSala
A post shared by Diego Maradona Oficial (@maradona) on Feb 7, 2019 at 5:40pm PST
Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, a fellow Argentinian, tweeted: “Rest in peace, Emiliano. My condolences to his friends and family #PrayForSala”, while former Nantes team-mate Gabriel Boschilia said on Instagram it had been a pleasure to play alongside Sala.
Enorme tristeza 😢 QEDP Emiliano. Mis condolencias a familiares y amigos #PrayForSala 🙏🏾//Terribly sad 😢 Rest in peace, Emiliano. My condolences to his friends and family #PrayForSala 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/n9aV5CGcI1
— Sergio Kun Aguero (@aguerosergiokun) February 8, 2019
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Gabriel Boschilia (@boschilia) on Feb 7, 2019 at 3:55pm PST
The light aircraft was piloted by David Ibbotson, who has not been found.
Arsenal player Mesut Ozil wrote: “No words to describe how sad this is. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and also to the family of the pilot. #RIPsala”.
Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy tweeted an image of Sala, while Paris Saint-Germain footballer Kylian Mbappe wrote simply: “RIP EMI”.
Football clubs across the world also shared messages of tribute, with Barcelona tweeting: “Rest in peace”, while Independiente, the Argentine club Sala supported, posted words of solidarity for the player’s family and friends.
Argentina’s president Mauricio Macri – who had joined calls for the search for the plane to be resumed after it was called off – also posted on Twitter, sending his condolences to Sala’s family, adding: “We are with you”.