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Sala mourned at funeral in Argentina

Emiliano Sala's death has been described as "like a hard punch" as friends and family gathered for the Argentine's funeral.

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."

Premier League switch would have been great career step

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.

"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."