Progreso (Argentina), Feb. 16, 2019 (Reuters/NNN) Grieving Argentines paid tribute to footballer Emiliano Sala on Saturday at a special memorial in his home region of Santa Fe.
The body of the 28-year-old Sala, who died in a plane crash last month, was laid out in a gymnasium in the town where he grew up.
This was to enable friends and family pay their last respects.
A single-engine plane carrying Sala from his French club Nantes to his new team Cardiff City crashed on Jan. 21 in the English Channel.
This was before he could make his debut for the English Premier League (EPL) side.
Wreckage was found on Feb. 3 following a privately-funded underwater search, and a body recovered three days later.
Sala’s body was flown back to Argentina and arrived in Buenos Aires on Friday morning before being driven the 538 km (334 miles) to Progreso, where he grew up.
The gymnasium of the Atletico y Social San Martin de Progreso club hosted boys’ teams where Sala played as a child.
Many of the residents in the town of around 2,500 people wore the red and black shirt of the local side, with the name EMI on the back.
They began arriving at about 7 a.m. on Saturday to see the body and pay their last respects.
Outside, fans draped a banner saying, “Emi, nunca caminaras solo’’ or “Emi, You’ll Never Walk Alone.’’
“It’s as if he was a member of my family,” said a sobbing Lucia Torres, who lives nearby.
“It’s something I can’t understand nor accept because it hurts so much. The town has been in darkness since Jan. 21.”
Cardiff manager Neil Warnock and the Welsh club’s chief executive Ken Choo are among those who will attend the funeral this weekend.
“I will like to find a responsible person; someone who says to me, `This happened’, but, well, it seems this was just an accident,” said Sala’s aunt, Mirta Taffarel.(Reuters/NNN)
(Edited by Olawale Alabi)