Cardiff City and supporters described their profound sense of shock on Tuesday night as fears grew that Emiliano Sala, who only signed for the club on Friday, had been killed in a plane crash over the English Channel.
The 28-year-old Argentinian is believed to have been killed with his pilot after a light aircraft chartered by the club encountered troubles after taking off in France on Monday night. The striker, signed to help save struggling Cardiff from relegation, had flown out to France from Wales on a round trip on Monday to bid farewell to his former teammates at Ligue 1 team Nantes.
Instead of welcoming his record £15million arrival, manager Neil Warnock found himself sending his squad home for the day. Ken Choo, Cardiff’s chief executive, said the club was in deep distress, but they were praying for a miracle.
“We were very shocked upon hearing the news that the plane had gone missing,” said Choo, who had played a part in welcoming grieving Leicester City fans after the Foxes’ helicopter tragedy just three months ago. “We expected Emiliano to arrive [on Monday] night into Cardiff and [Tuesday] was due to be his first day with the team. Our owner, Tan Sri Vincent Tan, and chairman, Mehmet Dalman, are all very distressed about the situation. We made the decision first thing this morning to call off training with the thoughts of the squad, management staff and the entire Club with Emiliano and the pilot.”