Sala funeral held in Argentine hometown

Mourners have paid tribute to Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala in his small hometown.
Mourners have paid tribute to Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala in his small hometown.

Family, friends, supporters and former teammates have paid tribute to striker Emiliano Sala in his small Argentine hometown, almost four weeks after he died when the plane he was in crashed into the English Channel.

The 28-year-old Sala's body received a hero's welcome in Progreso where much of the grieving population paid their last respects to their soccer idol before the body was taken away for cremation on Saturday.

"It is something that I still cannot understand or accept because it hurts so much," said Progreso resident Lucia Torres, who was in tears. "My town shut down on January 21 and remains shut down to this day."

Sala was the best-known figure from Progreso, a town of several thousand inhabitants in Argentina's Santa Fe province, and was adored by many. He had been known since childhood here as "Emi".

A post-mortem found that Sala died from injuries to his head and torso when his plane crashed in the channel.

The single-engine aircraft was flying from the French city of Nantes to Cardiff where Sala was due to start a new career playing for the Welsh capital's Premier League club. Among those in attendance at Saturday's funeral were Cardiff City's manager Neil Warnock and his Nantes teammate Nicolas Pallois.

Sala's body was recovered from the seabed wreckage last week but the plane's pilot is still missing.

Australian Associated Press