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LISTEN: “My plane seems to be falling apart…I’m so scared”

LISTEN: “My plane seems to be falling apart…I’m so scared”

Wednesday 23 January 2019

LISTEN: “My plane seems to be falling apart…I’m so scared”

Wednesday 23 January 2019

“Anyway boys, I’m now on a plane which seems to be falling apart… I’m so scared.”

The words come from Argentine Emiliano Sala, a footballer missing – and now suspected to be dead – since Monday when a plane carrying him disappeared from flight radars over the Channel Islands.

He sent the audio message to a number of friends over WhatsApp as the plane was on the runway and readying itself for take-off. Engine sounds can be heard in the background of the recording, which was released to Argentine media yesterday.

Despite now taking on a more haunting tone given the circumstances of the footballer’s disappearance, the message was in fact sent while the soon-to-be Premier League footballer was in good spirits, having just signed a record deal with Cardiff FC.

Listen: Sala's last words to friends sent via WhatsApp. (Clarín)

He joked that he was “dead” from having had so much to do – relating to arrangements for his £15million transfer from Nantes FC.

Sala continued: “So anyway boys, I’m now on a plane which seems to be falling apart. 

“And now I'm leaving for Cardiff, crazy that tomorrow I'll be training in the afternoon with my new teammates. We'll see what happens.

"So how are things with you brothers? All well?

"In an hour and a half if you haven't had news of me, I don't know if they'll send someone to look for me, because they're not going to find me. But, you know... 

"God, I'm so scared."

The revelation came shortly before search and rescue efforts jolted into action again this morning for Sala and his pilot, whose identity remains unconfirmed.

Two planes were launched, while Guernsey Harbour Master David Barker confirmed that the team were now working on four search possibilities: 

“1. They have landed elsewhere but not made contact. 
2. They landed on water, have been picked up by a passing ship but not made contact 
3. They landed on water and made it into the life raft we know was on board
4. The aircraft broke up on contact with the water, leaving them in the sea.”

However, he added that the “priority” was the life raft option.


Pictured: The area searched so far. (Guernsey Police)

Last night saw the football community come together in an outpouring of solidarity and well wishes for Sala and his pilot. 

All-night vigils were held in Place Royale in Nantes where observers placed a yellow tulip – yellow being the club’s colour – into the fountain. Meanwhile, the local football club asked their followers to 'Pray for Sala'. 

Flowers are also being left at the Cardiff playing ground.

Meanwhile, Sala’s father, lorry driver Horacio, said he was desperately awaiting news, stating that the last he’d heard from Sala was on Sunday.

He said the only updates he’d been able to get were on the news. “I’m in despair,” he told channel C5N.

Julio Muller, the mayor of Progreso, the small town in the farming province of Santa Fe where Sala grew up, told Clarin online: “The town is in shock. The only thing we were talking about was his transfer.”

Sala spent four years at FC Nantes the longest stretch at one club of his career. He was the third highest scoring player in the French top division last season. 

Both clubs have now issued statements in relation to the incident; Cardiff City were said to be “very distressed” by the news. 

Adding to the tragedy, the Argentinian striker had apparently rejected an offer of double the £15million transfer fee from FC Nantes to Cardiff FC just three days ago. 

"His Premier League dream was stronger than the mind-blowing bid from China," said French site Le 10 Sport. 

Football fans and pundits have taken to social media to discuss the apparent tragedy with many drawing comparisons between this incident and the helicopter crash which killed the Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha last year.

French World Cup-winning player Kylian Mbappé led tributes from players, and English pundit Gary Lineker also shared a message of hope.

There is still no trace of Sala, his pilot or the missing plane. Guernsey Police reported that a number of “floating objects” were identified in the sea last night, but it remains to be confirmed whether these are part of a wreckage.

Given the lack of news, some have begun to speculate about exactly what happened, with many attempting to work out the identity of the pilot involved.

Some media outlets named a York-based pilot linked with the plane suspected to have carried Sala, but he later took to Facebook to protest that: "Contrary to press reports I am not dead!!"

He then took the post down and deleted his account.

Sala's ex-girlfriend, Berenice Shkair, expressed her disbelief at what had happened in a tweet, which she later deleted.


Pictured: Sala's ex-girlfriend's tweet.

"Investigate the football mafia because I don't believe this accident" ("Investiguen la mafia del fútbol porque no me creep este accidente"), she wrote.

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