Soccer star Emiliano Sala delivered a desperate message to relatives just before the single-engine plane he was flying in vanished over the English Channel: “Dad, I’m really scared.”
The 28-year-old striker’s likely final words emerged on Wednesday as the search for him and the pilot of the Piper Malibu resumed.
“I’m in the plane and it looks like it’s going to fall apart,” the Argentina-born forward told friends in a voice message from the aircraft. “Dad, I’m really scared.”
Sala was set to make his debut in the English Premier League playing for the struggling Cardiff City. He had inked a record $19 million contract with the club just last week.
The star, who has scored 12 goals this season for French club FC Nantes, was traveling to Cardiff, the capital of Wales, from Nantes. His voice message was authenticated by his father, Horacio, according to Argentina’s Clarin newspaper.
The Piper Malibu dropped off the radar at just over 2,000 feet 15 miles north of Guernsey Monday night. The aircraft had been cruising at 5,000 feet when the pilot requested to descend to a lower altitude near Guernsey, police said.
The disappearance sparked a massive search and rescue effort, with three planes and a helicopter scouring the waters northwest of the Channel Island of Alderney where debris was spotted.
In a tweet Wednesday afternoon, Guernsey Police said a search of 280 square miles had been completed in the last five hours.
“There is as yet no trace today of the missing aircraft,” the department wrote. Hopes of finding the soccer star or the pilot alive continued to dwindle fast.
In France and Wales, fans from both soccer teams paid tribute to the young star. “Sala a Bluebird. R.I.P. Bro. Big Love,” one wrote, referring to Cardiff’s nickname, in a message at the stadium.
Cardiff chairman Mehmet Dalman said the club wasn’t involved in Sala’s travel to the city, according to British media. “He declined and made his own arrangements,” he said.
Source: New York Post
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