Emiliano Sala’s family finally have some peace of mind after the footballer’s body was recovered from the wreckage of a crash plane earlier this week.
Dorset Police confirmed the identification on Thursday night, adding in a statement: “The body brought to Portland Port today, Thursday 7 February 2019, has been formally identified by HM Coroner for Dorset as that of professional footballer Emiliano Sala.
“The families of Mr Sala and the pilot David Ibbotson have been updated with this news and will continue to be supported by specially-trained family liaison officers.”
Sala and Ibbotson went missing when the Piper Malibu N264DB single propeller aeroplane they were travelling in from Nantes to Cardiff disappeared on January 21.
An official search operation was called off after just four days but a private search led to the wreckage being discovered on February 4.
The private search was able to take place thanks to a crowdfunding effort, which raised more than €300,000. Paris Saint-Germain duo Adrien Rabiot and Kylian Mbappe donated €25,000 and €30,000, respectively, to ensure the search resumed as quickly as possible.
Other high-profile footballers, including Lionel Messi, urged the authorities not to give up the search for the recently-signed Cardiff City striker.
In a statement released on Friday morning, Sala’s family said: “It is with infinite sadness that we confirm the identity of Emiliano’s body.
“We would like to thank you for all your signs of affection and support in what is the most painful time of our lives.
“Seeing the whole world mobilised to support us in our research has been an infinitely precious help. Thanks to you, we are now able to mourn our son, our brother.”
The statement also urged authorities to continues searching for Ibbotson.
“On this Friday morning, our thoughts go to David Ibbotson and his family, hoping that the authorities will do their best to find him.”
After the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) confirmed that the search had been brought to an end – the operation to raise the wreckage aborted due to bad weather – Ibbotson’s daughter, Danielle, has set up a GoFundMe page in an attempt to continue the search for her missing father.
At the time of writing, the fundraiser had already raised £6,000 within the first couple of hours.
The aim is to raise £300,000.
“Please help bring David Ibbotson home and help give him the send off he deserves,” the appeal reads on the GoFundMe page.
“As a family we are relying on the kindness of the good hearted people to help us raise the much needed funds to help us find our beloved Dad, Husband and Son.
“As a family we are trying to come to terms with the tragedy and the loss of two incredible men.
“To be told the search has now been called off for the foreseeable future has only made this tragic time more difficult.
“We can not bare the thought of him being alone, we need him home so that we are able to lay him to rest.
“Any donations would be very much appreciated.
“Thank you so much for your support Ibbotson Family.”
Let’s hope the football community unites once again to raise the required funds for another search to take place.