Saturday 20 July 2019

'I'm scared' - Audio message from Cardiff striker Emiliano Sala before plane went missing

Emiliano Sala
Emiliano Sala
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala sent an audio message on WhatsApp to friends and relatives before his plane went missing where he spoke about concern for the state of the aircraft.

The search for the plane carrying Sala over the English Channel resumed at sunrise.

The chances of finding Sala alive are "slim" if the plane landed on water, Guernsey Police had said in a statement earlier during Tuesday afternoon.

According to Guernsey Police, the Piper PA-46 Malibu, a single turbine engine aircraft carrying two people, departed Nantes at 7.15pm for the Welsh capital and was flying at an altitude of 5,000ft.

On passing Guernsey it "requested descent", but Jersey air traffic control (ATC) lost contact with the plane while it was flying at 2,300ft.

After a 15-hour search from rescue teams, which covered an area totalling 1,155 square miles, Guernsey Police revealed that "a number of floating objects" were seen in the water, but they were "unable to confirm whether any of these are from the missing aircraft".

In a WhatsApp message to loved ones, Sala expressed concerns about his plane shortly before the light aircraft disappeared.

"I'm on a plane that looks like it's going to fall apart, and I'm leaving for Cardiff," Sala said in a WhatsApp audio message carried by Argentine newspaper Clarin.

"If in an hour and a half you have no news from me, I don't know if they will send people to look for me, because they will not find me, you know. I'm so scared," he added.

The publication said the message was verified by Sala's father, Horacio Sala.

Reports in France claimed he had told Nicolas Pallois, a team-mate who drove him to the airport, that the trip "had been bumpy and he feared his safety for the journey back". However, Sala looked happy hours before take off, posting pictures with his former teammates. On one he poignantly wrote "the last goodbye".

Cardiff have been in contact with Sala's family as they wait for news.

Nantes president Waldemar Kita added on the French club's website: "I'll always have hope, he's a fighter. It's not over, maybe he's somewhere."

Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri, who coached Sala at Nantes, added in a statement on Twitter: "I was devastated to hear the news. Emiliano is a wonderful character.

"He's a fighter. The world of football will be united in wishing for some positive news. I pray for Emiliano and his family."

French sports newspaper L'Equipe carried the search for Sala on its front page on Wednesday with the headline: "The disappearance of a warrior".

Nantes' Coupe de France clash with third-tier Entente Sannois, scheduled for Wednesday evening, has been postponed until Sunday while their Ligue 1 fixture against St Etienne - originally due to take place on Saturday - has been moved to Wednesday, January 30.

Sala, a native of Santa Fe in Argentina, played at youth level for Club Proyecto Crecer in his home country before being snapped up by French club Bordeaux in 2010.

He was then sent out on a series of loans to Orleans, Niort and Caen and, after failing to make more than a handful of appearances for Bordeaux, joined Nantes in 2015.

It was in Brittany where his career began to flourish.

Sala's hat-trick against Toulouse in October 2018 was the first by any Nantes player in Ligue 1 since 2006.

Cardiff signed the forward in a deal reportedly worth in the region of £15million, breaking the previous record of £11million paid for Gary Medel in 2013.

Online Editors

The Throw-In: Kerry back to their best, Connolly’s return and Cork’s baffling inconsistency

In association with Bord Gáis Energy

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport