Sadly, it was confirmed late on Thursday that Emiliano Sala’s body had been recovered from the bottom of the English Channel.
While we all knew it in the pit of our stomach, official news came through from the relevant authorities that the body retrieved from the submerged plane wreckage was indeed that of the Argentinian striker.
After what must have been a tumultuous night, Sala’s former club Nantes acknowledged the difficult realisation in an emotional statement posted on Friday morning:
There are difficult mornings, nightmarish awakenings where unfortunately reality catches up with us. Emi has gone away.
Arriving on the banks of the Edre in July 2015, Emiliano Sala has won the hearts of supporters in Nantes. Through his work, his anger and limitless kindness, he finished top scorer for the last three seasons.
The national and international tributes that have been offered to him are due to the person and the player he was. We are losing today a friend, a talented player, an exemplary teammate.
We do not forget in this drama the pilot and his family and trust the authorities to continue their research.
FC Nantes, its leaders, staff, and players present the families of Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson their deepest condolences.
We will never forget you, Emi.
Nantes club president Waldemar Kita also added that he now intends to retire Sala’s shirt number as a lasting homage to their late friend.
I do not have the words, it’s a tragedy, I’m devastated.
Emiliano left his mark, which is why, like many fans, I want to honour him again by removing the No.9.
Nice touch. It’s precisely this kind of thing that shirt retiring should be preserved for.
RIP Emiliano Sala (1990-2019), David Ibbotson