Sala mourned at funeral in Argentina

Mourners have paid their final respects to Emiliano Sala at a funeral for the late Cardiff City striker in his native Argentina.

A special memorial was held at a sports hall in the Santa Fe province where he grew up before the funeral took place later on Saturday.

The 28-year-old and pilot David Ibbotson were on board a Piper Malibu aircraft when it disappeared on January 21.

Sala was on his way to link up with Premier League side Cardiff after completing a club-record transfer move from Nantes two days earlier.

His body was last week recovered from the plane wreckage in the English Channel with the help of specialist contractors.

Bluebirds manager Neil Warnock and CEO Ken Choo were among the funeral attendees.

Daniel Ribero, president of Sala's first club San Martin de Progreso, described his death as "like a hard punch".

"On January 19 they confirmed his transfer to Cardiff and we were really happy for that," Ribero told Omnisport.

"And 48 hours later this tragedy happens. So we passed by a huge joy to an immense sorrow. As I said, [it feels] like a hard punch in the head."

Ribero said Sala's switch from Ligue 1 outfit Nantes to Cardiff had brought joy to those who knew him.

"That step ahead to Premier League, even if he was going to a club which was fighting against relegation, it could have been a step forward in his career to something bigger in Premier League, to a team which fights for something more important," he said.

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The funeral of Emiliano Sala
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The funeral of Emiliano Sala
The Cardiff FC manager and club chief executive paid their respects at a public vigil in Sala's hometown in Argentina.
The Cardiff FC manager and club chief executive paid their respects at a public vigil in Sala's hometown in Argentina.
The Cardiff manager and club chief executive paid their respects at a public vigil in Sala’s hometown in Argentina.
PROGRESO, ARGENTINA - FEBRUARY 16: Hundreds of people, relatives and residents of Progreso bid farewell to the remains of Emiliano Sala after a vigil at Sala's boyhood club San Martin de Progreso on February 16, 2019 in Progreso, Argentina. 28-year-old striker was killed when the private plane carrying him from Nantes to Cardiff crashed in the English Channel near Alderney on January 21. Sala's body was recovered from the wreckage on February 6 and pilot David Ibbotson remains missing. (Photo by Gustavo Garello/Getty Images)
PROGRESO, ARGENTINA - FEBRUARY 16: Football player of Nantes Nicolas Pallois (R), Dario Sala (C) brother of Emiliano Sala and Horacio Sala (C-back) his father, along with other relatives and friends carry the coffin followed by Sala's mother Carina Mercedes Taffarel (L) after a vigil at Sala's boyhood club San Martin de Progreso on February 16, 2019 in Progreso, Argentina. 28-year-old striker was killed when the private plane carrying him from Nantes to Cardiff crashed in the English Channel near Alderney on January 21. Sala's body was recovered from the wreckage on February 6 and pilot David Ibbotson remains missing. (Photo by Gustavo Garello/Getty Images)
PROGRESO, ARGENTINA - FEBRUARY 16: A relative of Emiliano sala cries after a vigil at Sala's boyhood club San Martin de Progreso on February 16, 2019 in Progreso, Argentina. 28-year-old striker was killed when the private plane carrying him from Nantes to Cardiff crashed in the English Channel near Alderney on January 21. Sala's body was recovered from the wreckage on February 6 and pilot David Ibbotson remains missing. (Photo by Gustavo Garello/Getty Images)
PROGRESO, ARGENTINA - FEBRUARY 16: A cross a flower arrangements are seen after a vigil at Sala's boyhood club San Martin de Progreso on February 16, 2019 in Progreso, Argentina. 28-year-old striker was killed when the private plane carrying him from Nantes to Cardiff crashed in the English Channel near Alderney on January 21. Sala's body was recovered from the wreckage on February 6 and pilot David Ibbotson remains missing. (Photo by Gustavo Garello/Getty Images)
PROGRESO, ARGENTINA - FEBRUARY 16: A poster with Emiliano Sala's portrait and a phrase that reads 'Your legacy will be eternal' is taken away after a vigil at Sala's boyhood club San Martin de Progreso on February 16, 2019 in Progreso, Argentina. 28-year-old striker was killed when the private plane carrying him from Nantes to Cardiff crashed in the English Channel near Alderney on January 21. Sala's body was recovered from the wreckage on February 6 and pilot David Ibbotson remains missing. (Photo by Gustavo Garello/Getty Images)
PROGRESO, ARGENTINA - FEBRUARY 16: Football player of Nantes Nicolas Pallois (R), Dario Sala (C) brother of Emiliano Sala and Horacio Sala (C-back) his father, along with other relatives and friends carry the coffin followed by Sala's mother Carina Mercedes Taffarel (L) after a vigil at Sala's boyhood club San Martin de Progreso on February 16, 2019 in Progreso, Argentina. 28-year-old striker was killed when the private plane carrying him from Nantes to Cardiff crashed in the English Channel near Alderney on January 21. Sala's body was recovered from the wreckage on February 6 and pilot David Ibbotson remains missing. (Photo by Gustavo Garello/Getty Images)
Nantes' French defender Nicolas Pallois (C-L) Dario Sala (L) brother of late Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala and Horacio Sala (R-back) his father, along with other relatives and friends, carry the coffin as they leave Club Atletico y Deportivo San Martin during the funeral service in Progreso, Santa Fe, Argentina on February 16, 2019. - The death in a plane crash of Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala was a cruel blow to family, friends and supporters in his home village in Argentina, and on Saturday they came, grieving, from miles around to pay their respects. (Photo by JUAN MABROMATA / AFP) (Photo credit should read JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)
PROGRESO, ARGENTINA - FEBRUARY 16: Relatives react as the coffin is being place in the hearse to take it to Santa Fe after a vigil at Sala's boyhood club San Martin de Progreso on February 16, 2019 in Progreso, Argentina. 28-year-old striker was killed when the private plane carrying him from Nantes to Cardiff crashed in the English Channel near Alderney on January 21. Sala's body was recovered from the wreckage on February 6 and pilot David Ibbotson remains missing. (Photo by Gustavo Garello/Getty Images)
Nantes' French defender Nicolas Pallois (C) Dario Sala (2-L) brother of late Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala, Horacio Sala (C-back) his father along with relatives and friends, carry the coffin during his funeral at the Club Atletico y Deportivo San Martin in Progreso, Santa Fe, Argentina on February 16, 2019. - The death in a plane crash of Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala was a cruel blow to family, friends and supporters in his home village in Argentina, and on Saturday they came, grieving, from miles around to pay their respects. (Photo by JUAN MABROMATA / AFP) (Photo credit should read JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)
PROGRESO, ARGENTINA - FEBRUARY 16: Horacio Sala father of Emiliano cries after a vigil at Sala's boyhood club San Martin de Progreso on February 16, 2019 in Progreso, Argentina. 28-year-old striker was killed when the private plane carrying him from Nantes to Cardiff crashed in the English Channel near Alderney on January 21. Sala's body was recovered from the wreckage on February 6 and pilot David Ibbotson remains missing. (Photo by Gustavo Garello/Getty Images)
Romina Sala sister of late Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala, kisses her brother's coffin after it was loaded on a hearse, during his funeral at the Club Atletico y Deportivo San Martin in Progreso, Santa Fe, Argentina on February 16, 2019. - The death in a plane crash of Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala was a cruel blow to family, friends and supporters in his home village in Argentina, and on Saturday they came, grieving, from miles around to pay their respects. (Photo by JUAN MABROMATA / AFP) (Photo credit should read JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)
Nantes' French defender Nicolas Pallois (L) and relatives of late Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala carry his coffin during the funeral at the Club Atletico y Deportivo San Martin in Progreso, Santa Fe, Argentina on February 16, 2019. - The death in a plane crash of Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala was a cruel blow to family, friends and supporters in his home village in Argentina, and on Saturday they came, grieving, from miles around to pay their respects. (Photo by JUAN MABROMATA / AFP) (Photo credit should read JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)
PROGRESO, ARGENTINA - FEBRUARY 16: Emiliano Sala's aunt Mirta Taffarel talks to the media as she leaves the vigil at Sala's boyhood club San Martin de Progreso on February 16, 2019 in Progreso, Argentina. 28-year-old striker was killed when the private plane carrying him from Nantes to Cardiff crashed in the English Channel near Alderney on January 21. Sala's body was recovered from the wreckage on February 6 and pilot David Ibbotson remains missing. (Photo by Gustavo Garello/Getty Images)
PROGRESO, ARGENTINA - FEBRUARY 16: Emiliano Sala's aunt Mirta Taffarel talks to the media as she leaves the vigil at Sala's boyhood club San Martin de Progreso on February 16, 2019 in Progreso, Argentina. 28-year-old striker was killed when the private plane carrying him from Nantes to Cardiff crashed in the English Channel near Alderney on January 21. Sala's body was recovered from the wreckage on February 6 and pilot David Ibbotson remains missing. (Photo by Gustavo Garello/Getty Images)
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"Then we all dreamed about him playing for the national team. Considering all these generational and technical changes [to the Argentina national team]... maybe if Emiliano had a good season in Premier League, he could have got his chance, and then we would have felt in heaven."

Warnock, meanwhile, said: "You know things like this don't happen very often, so you can't understand the emotions of the family.

"The thing today is how united they all are, the village, not just the family, the whole village is really united. I think it really brings it home to you at this time, how important the family are.

"It's been very moving in there and it's been a difficult morning for everyone, but at least I think they've got some comfort now in the fact that at least they can have closure."

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