Footballer Emiliano Sala’s funeral takes place in Argentina

Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock among mourners to pay tribute at emotional service

A coffin containing the body of footballer Emiliano Sala was carried from a vigil site to a hearse by the star's friends and family on Saturday (February 16). Video: Reuters

 

Mourners paid tribute to footballer Emiliano Sala at his funeral in his hometown in Argentina on Saturday.

The 28-year-old striker’s body was repatriated on Friday before it was returned to Progreso, about 350 miles from Buenos Aires, for the public vigil.

Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock and club chief executive Ken Choo joined locals from the small town for a service in the gymnasium of Sala’s boyhood club, San Martin de Progreso.

They arrived wearing black suits with yellow daffodils pinned to their jackets as a tribute to Sala.

Cardiff’s players have also worn shirts bearing the flower in memory of Sala, who became the club’s record £15 million (€17m) signing days before his death.

Sala’s mother and father were also present at the vigil.

A relative of Emiliano Sala cries after a vigil at Sala’s boyhood club in Progreso, Argentina. Photograph: Gustavo Garello/Getty Images
A relative of Emiliano Sala cries after a vigil at Sala’s boyhood club in Progreso, Argentina. Photograph: Gustavo Garello/Getty Images

His body will be cremated at a private service in the city of Santa Fe on Saturday afternoon local time.

Before the funeral, San Martin de Progreso posted a tribute to Facebook which said: “We are waiting for you . . . like the first day you left but this time to stay with us forever. You went and you are an example for everyone.”

He died on January 21st when the plane he was travelling in crashed in the English Channel after he had visited players at Nantes his former club in France.

Emiliano Sala celebrates after scoring for Nantes in November. File photograph: Jean-Francois Monier/AFP/Getty Images
Emiliano Sala celebrates after scoring for Nantes in November. File photograph: Jean-Francois Monier/AFP/Getty Images

His body was pulled from the wreckage on February 7th but the British pilot, David Ibbotson (59) from Lincolnshire, has not been found.

A fundraising campaign to restart the search for the pilot has raised more than £240,000.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain earlier this week, his daughter Danielle said the family would not give up hope.

“If you’ve got hope then you shouldn’t give up,” she said. “He wouldn’t stop searching for me.”

She added: “We still hope and pray and hope everyone keeps my dad in their prayers.”

The plane remains on the seabed off the coast of Guernsey in the English Channel. – PA