#EmilianoSala: Nantes Retires The No 9 Jersey In Honour Of Dead Striker

Nantes have retired their No 9 shirt in honour of former striker Emiliano Sala, whose body was found in the plane wreckage in the English Channel this week. And in tearful scenes outside the club’s Stade de la Beaujoire on Friday morning a ‘keep hope’ banner was removed in front of the floral tribute. On Wednesday, it emerged an unidentified body – now known to be Sala – was brought off ship, Geo Ocean III, on a stretcher and transferred to a private ambulance before being taken to Dorset Police and the local coroner. The plane was flying from Nantes, France, the home of Sala’s former team, to Cardiff on January 21, when it crashed into the sea with the new £15million signing and pilot David Ibbotson inside. The French club released a heartfelt statement on Friday, confirming the decision to retire the shirt. ‘FC Nantes had the immense sadness on Thursday to learn that the body found was that of Emiliano Sala. This news puts an end to interminable and unbearable waiting. Emiliano will forever be on the legends who has written the great history of FC Nantes. ‘There are difficult mornings, nightmarish awakenings, where unhappily reality hits us. Emis is gone…’Emiliano Sala arrived on the backs of the Edre in July 2015 and knew how to win the hearts of the Nantes supporters. ‘With his work, his desire and his kindness without limits, he finished as the club’s top scorer in his three seasons. ‘The homages paid to him nationally and internationally match the player and personal that he was.  ‘Today, we have lost a friend, a talented player and an exemplaray team-mate. ‘We can’t forget in this drama the pilot and his family and have confidence that the authorities will continue their search.’ Waldemar Kita, president of Nantes said: ‘I don’t have the words. It’s a tragedy, I’m crushed. Emiliano left his mark. That’s why, like many fans, I wish to honour him by retiring the No 9. ‘Nantes, its board, its staff and its players, wish to pass the families of Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson their deepest condolences. We will never forget you, Emi. ‘He’s an Argentine who never gives up, Emiliano Sala, Emiliano Sala…’ A statement from Dorset Police, released on Thursday night, read: ‘The body brought to Portland Port today, Thursday 7 February 2019, has been formally identified by HM Coroner for Dorset as that of professional footballer Emiliano Sala. ‘The families of Mr Sala and the pilot David Ibbotson have been updated with this news and will continue to be supported by specially-trained family liaison officers. Our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time. ‘HM Coroner will continue to investigate the circumstances of this death supported by Dorset Police. ‘On Monday 21 January 2019 a plane carrying both men was flying from Nantes to Cardiff when it lost contact with Air Traffic Control, north of Guernsey. ‘Sadly a search and rescue operation was unsuccessful in locating the plane and the two occupants.  ‘Subsequently AAIB and privately funded search teams were deployed to the relevant area. Using specialist equipment the teams succeeded in locating and identifying the plane and recovering Mr Sala’s body.’ Shortly after, Cardiff released a statement on their website which read: ‘We offer our most heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the family of Emiliano. He and David will forever remain in our thoughts.’ Photo Credit: Getty

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