Footballer Emiliano Sala has finally been laid to rest at a private cremation, following his untimely death last month.
The 28-year-old died while travelling from Nantes to Cardiff after signing for the Welsh side, when the plane he was aboard crashed into the English Channel.
He had been sold for £15 million from French team Nantes and was excited to embark on a new adventure at the Premier League club.
However, he never made it to Britain, and his plane went missing en route on January 21st.
The Argentinian’s family waited several weeks before his body was found in the underwater wreckage earlier this month (February 7th).
He was then transported back to Argentina, so his loved ones and thousands of fans could say their goodbyes.
Before Sala’s intimate cremation with just close friends and family, he had a more public service, as thousands of people headed to Sante Fe to pay their respects.
The service began early in the morning in the gymnasium of San Martin de Progreso, the first club the footballer had ever joined. Mourners waited outside the building to see his coffin be carried to a hearse that would take him to the cremation ceremony, also in Sante Fe.
Among those who carried the coffin were his brother Dario and father Horacio. Nantes’ footballer Nicolas Pallois also had the honour of carrying his body, while general secretary of the French team Loic Morin flew to Argentina for the funeral, as well as Cardiff City’s manager Neil Warnock, and the club’s chief executive officer Ken Choo.
Warnock spoke at the vigil, saying: “I have been a manager nearly 40 years and I’ve never known anything like this. It’s been so emotional. People say ‘he never played for’, but he was my player. I chased him. I wanted him.”
The village’s 3,500 inhabitants came out in full force to mourn their loss, and many held up banners with the worlds: “Emi, nunca caminaras soloa.” Translated, this means, “Emi, you will never walk alone”.
An inquest into the crash was launched, determining that Sala was killed by head and upper body injuries caused by the impact of the plane plummeting into the water.
Despite this, his family still want answers, with his cousin Martin Gatti telling Sky News there were “irregularities” in the accident.
“They can’t say a plane just crashed and they both died and that’s it,” he stated, adding: “I think Emiliano was forced to board that plane, made to board a plane that was not in good condition, with a pilot who wasn’t prepared, alone and at night.”
Mr Gatti added: “If you happen to be the most important player ever sold in the history of the club, they could have at least taken care of him.”
While Sala has finally been laid to rest, nearly a month after the crash, pilot David Ibbotson is still missing.
His family are urging the public to help them find him, launching a crowdfunding appeal to pay for the search.
Having already reached £246,925 of their £300,000 goal, they want to find his body so “we are able to lay him to rest and to be able to say goodbye”.
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