Sala: Nantes Retire No 9 shirt, Maradona, Mesut Ozil, Others Pay Tribute

…Body Found From Plane Wreckage

The body of the 28-year-old was found on Wednesday night, although pilot David Ibbotson remains missing

The Argentine striker had recently joined Cardiff in a £15m move before his place crashed in the English Channel.

And after after the footballer’s body was identified as the one pulled from the wreckage of an aircraft on Thursday night, Nantes have announced the heartwarming tribute.

Waldemar Kita, president of Nantes, confirmed the gesture: “I don’t have the words. It’s a tragedy, I’m crushed. Emiliano left his mark. That’s why, like many fans, I wish to honour him by retiring the No 9.

“Nantes, its board, its staff and its players, wish to pass the families of Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson their deepest condolences. We will never forget you, Emi.”

FC Nantes redesign their official website to mourn the death of Emiliano Sala (FC Nantes)

Meanwhile Diego Maradona, Mesut Ozil and a number of the Cardiff City players were among those who paid tribute to Sala.

A plane carrying Sala and 60-year-old pilot David Ibbotson went missing after it crashed into the Channel just north of Guernsey on Monday 21 January. Search efforts located the wreckage at the start of the week, with a body retrieved on Wednesday night that was officially identified as the missing footballer late on Thursday.

The news triggered an outpouring of emotional tributes on social media, with a number of leading footballers past and present posting messages of condolence.

The 28-year-old Sala had only completed the details of his transfer to Cardiff City – for a club record £15m from FC Nantes in France – two days before the crash.

Cardiff 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”.

Oumar Niasse tweeted: “RIP @EmilianoSala1 Forever in our thoughts”.

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”.

Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, a fellow Argentinian, tweeted: “Rest in peace, Emiliano. My condolences to his friends and family #PrayForSala”.

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”.

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