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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 17 February 2019

Cardiff City, Mesut Ozil and Diego Maradona lead tributes to Emiliano Sala

Footballing world responds after body recovered from the English Channel formally identified as being the Argentine footballer

Fellow footballing stars have paid tribute to Emiliano Sala after his body was recovered from the English Channel and formally identified.

News of the striker's death came almost three weeks after his plane crashed en route from Nantes, France, to Cardiff.

The 28-year-old had only completed the details of his transfer to Cardiff City - for a club record £15 million (Dh72.1m) - two days before the crash.

The 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."

Despite not getting the chance to play for Cardiff, several of his new team-mates shared their sadness at the news of his death.

Joe Bennett said simply: "RIP Emiliano", alongside several heart emojis, while Sol Bamba described the news as "tragic".

Oumar Niasse tweeted: "RIP @EmilianoSala1 Forever in our thoughts".

Diego Maradona, who was among those to call on authorities not to give up trying to find the footballer, posted a tribute on Instagram.

He told how many had kept a "light of hope" for the footballer, adding: "I send a big hug to your family and friends".

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero, a fellow Argentinian, tweeted: "Rest in peace, Emiliano. My condolences to his friends and family #PrayForSala".

The light aircraft was piloted by David Ibbotson, who has not yet been found.

Arsenal player Mesut Ozil wrote: "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".

Manchester City's Benjamin Mendy tweeted an image of Sala, while Paris Saint-Germain footballer Kylian Mbappe wrote simply: "RIP EMI".

Argentina's president Mauricio Macri - who had joined calls for the search for the plane to be resumed after it was called off - also posted on Twitter, sending his condolences to Sala's family, adding: "We are with you".

Updated: February 8, 2019 09:21 AM

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