Wreckage body identified as Sala's | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 09, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, February 09, 2019

Wreckage body identified as Sala's

Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala's family grieved on Friday after British authorities formally identified his body as the one recovered from the submerged wreckage of a plane that went down in the English Channel more than two weeks ago.

"We can now begin to mourn our son and our brother," the Cardiff City striker's family said in a statement. "We would like to thank you for all of your signs of affection and support in the most painful time of our life.

"To see everyone doing everything possible to join us in the search has been a precious help to us," the family said.

"Your soul in my soul will shine forever, thus illuminating the time of my existence. I love you, tito," Sala's sister Romina wrote on Instagram. Argentine footballing idols Diego Maradona and Gabriel Batistuta also paid tribute to Sala, 28.

The Premier League player's former French club, Nantes, said it was retiring the jersey with Sala's number 9 on it.

Investigators said they were abandoning plans to lift the plane wreckage out of the water because of bad weather.

Sala's disappearance sparked an outpouring of grief and a flood of cash to support a private hunt for the plane when the official search was initially called off.

"I am very sorry about this sad news. Many of us kept a glimmer of hope for you, Emiliano. I send a big hug to your family and friends, and I thank the Argentines for the respect of colleagues and fans from all over the world. See you, Emiliano," footballing superstar Maradona said on Instagram, after the identification of the body.

"What sadness, this is the worst news. Rest in peace warrior," tweeted retired Argentine football star Batistuta.

The small Argentine town of Progreso, where the footballer lived for most of his childhood, was also in mourning.

"Since we found out, it's all anyone can talk about," said local restaurant owner Oscar Heymo, a friend of Sala's father Horacio. "He was very much loved and admired by all." In Cardiff, club manager Neil Warnock said Southampton and Cardiff City players would wear black armbands in their Premier League match on Saturday and a minute's silence would be observed before kick-off.

"When something like this happens it brings all the football family together," he said. "It's a loss to everyone in football."

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