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Forever in our thoughts: Emiliano Sala’s body identified from plane wreckage

High-profile footballers, including Mesut Ozil and Kylian Mbappe, have paid tribute to Sala.

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The body of Emiliano Sala has been identified after it was recovered from plane wreckage in the English Channel (Nick Potts/PA)

The body of Emiliano Sala has been identified after it was recovered from plane wreckage in the English Channel (Nick Potts/PA)

The body of Emiliano Sala has been identified after it was recovered from plane wreckage in the English Channel (Nick Potts/PA)

Emiliano Sala will forever remain in the thoughts of Cardiff City, the club said, as his body was formally identified after being recovered from underwater wreckage in the English Channel.

Sala was identified by the Dorset coroner a day after his body was pulled from the plane, which had been flown by pilot David Ibbotson.

The families of both men have been informed, police said.

Cardiff City Football Club said in a statement: “We offer our most heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the family of Emiliano.

“He and David will forever remain in our thoughts.”

Other tributes were paid by Arsenal player Mesut Ozil‏, Manchester City’s Benjamin Mendy and Paris Saint-Germain footballer Kylian Mbappe.

Ozil tweeted: “No words to describe how sad this is. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and also to the family of the pilot. #RIPsala”.

The Piper Malibu N264DB plane lost contact with air traffic control over the Channel, north of Guernsey, on Monday January 21.

Sala had been travelling from Nantes in France to Cardiff, where he was due to begin training with his new club last month.

An initial search and rescue operation failed to locate the plane but it was later discovered by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) and privately funded search teams.

Shipwreck hunting expert David Mearns, who assisted in the second search, said his thoughts were with the family and friends of both Sala and Mr Ibbotson.

He tweeted: “Rest in Peace Emiliano.

“I was glad to provide some small comfort to Romina, Mercedes and the whole Sala family during the past two weeks but my heart goes out to the family and friends of David Ibbotson whose loss is the same.”

The aircraft remains 67 metres underwater 21 miles off the coast of Guernsey in the English Channel as poor weather conditions stopped efforts to recover it.

Dorset Police said in a statement: “The body brought to Portland Port today, Thursday February 7 2019, has been formally identified by HM Coroner for Dorset as that of professional footballer Emiliano Sala.

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The rear left side of the plane’s fuselage (AAIB)

The rear left side of the plane’s fuselage (AAIB)

Press Association Images

The rear left side of the plane’s fuselage (AAIB)

“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.”

The AAIB has said it expects to publish an interim report within the month.

Cardiff had signed Sala for a club record £15 million and he was due to start training last month.

Nantes has demanded payment from Cardiff for the player’s transfer.

PA