Emiliano Sala, (Emiliano Raul Sala Taffarel in Argentina) whose death in a light aircraft crash at the age of 28 has been announced, was born in Santa Fe, Argentina – but it was in France that he forged his reputation.
Among the top five goalscorers in Ligue 1 this season, Sala netted 12 times at better than a goal every two games.
That prompted Cardiff to pay Nantes a club record £15m for a man who spent his entire professional career in the French leagues.
Emiliano Sala was born on 31 October 1990 in the small rural community of Cululu in the Santa Fe province, about 340 miles north west of Buenos Aires.
After progressing through the youth set-up at Argentine side Club Proyecto Crecer, he moved to France to sign for Bordeaux.
But, after making his debut as a 21-year-old, he struggled for game time and a series of loan moves followed.
Emiliano Sala spent the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons at US Orleans and Niort respectively, scoring 37 goals in 74 matches.
When he took that goalscoring form into a loan spell with Caen in 2015, Nantes had seen enough – and bought the 6ft 3in striker for a reported one million euros.
Three and a half years – and 42 goals later – came Premier League interest.
West Ham, Everton, Leicester, Crystal Palace, Fulham and Southampton were all linked with Sala, but it was Cardiff who got their man – eclipsing the £11m they paid for Gary Medel to sign him.
When his signing was announced, Sala said: “It gives me great pleasure and I can’t wait to start training, meet my new team-mates and get down to work.”
In a later tweet, he wrote: “I know the challenge is big, but together we will make it.”
Two days later he posted a picture of him and his former Nantes team-mates. It was captioned “ciao”.
The 28-year-old Emiliano Sala died on January 21 2019 just two days after completing a 15 million ($19.3 million, 17.1 million euros) move to the Premier League club from French club Nantes.
The funeral of Cardiff City striker Emiliano Sala took place in his home village in Argentina on Saturday three weeks after he was killed in a plane crash.
A public vigil was held in a gymnasium in Progreso, the modest village in the province of Santa Fe which Sala left as a teenager to forge a career in Europe.
Emiliano Sala’s father, mother, sister and friends were seen arriving at the ceremony and dozens of local people filed in after them.
The single-engine private plane carrying Sala and pilot David Ibbotson crashed in the English Channel near Alderney. Sala had been flying back to Wales after returning to France to say goodbye to his former teammates.
The player’s body was recovered from the submerged wreckage on February 7 but Ibbotson remains missing, with funds being raised to continue the search for the 59-year-old.
Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock and the club’s chief executive Neil Warnock and chief executive Ken Choo both travelled to Argentina to attend the ceremony.
Nantes, for whom Sala scored 42 goals in 120 league appearances, were represented by the defender Nicolas Pallois and general secretary Loic Morin.
Emiliano Sala, a lanky striker, began his career at San Martin de Progreso, and the local club was at the centre of Saturday’s ceremony.
“People will be able to pass by the coffin, leave a letter, a drawing or flowers,” the club’s president, Daniel Ribero.
Following are facts about Sala, who joined the Premier League side from Nantes this week in a deal British media reported was worth about 17 million euros ($19.3 million):
- Born Emiliano Raul Sala Taffarel in Argentina’s Santa Fe Province on October 31, 1990
- Began his playing career as a youth at Argentinian side Club Proyecto Crecer, before heading to France where he signed for Girondins de Bordeaux
- The striker made his debut for the club in 2012 before going on loan to French sides Chamois Niortais and Caen
- He joined Nantes in 2015 and has scored 42 goals for the French Ligue 1 side so far
- Sala had scored 12 goals this season in France’s Ligue 1 to rank fifth among top scorers behind Kylian Mbappe (17), Edinson Cavani (14), Neymar Jr and Nicolas Pepe (13)
- Emiliano Raul Sala Taffarel in Argentina Biography and Profile (BBC / AFP)