…we didn’t have much coming in, that period drives me on. I have had to work so hard at every stage of my life.” Emiliano Sala
Sala was cherished not only for his 12 goals in 16 starts 2018/19 season but also for his work-rate on the field and character in the dressing room. Sala loved the guitar and was an avid reader, Sala possessed a personality that set him apart. He would often bring a book to the training ground for his down-time, Sala read Chinese philosophy and his favourite book was The Motorcyle Diaries, the story of Che Guevara’s trip as a student which inspired the striker to start thinking of launching a charity in Africa after his retirement from football.
‘Reading is what I love,’ Sala said last year. ‘I’m into crime and drama fiction. I love to be transported into that world.’
After a childhood in Argentina, where he would study videos of the legendary Gabriel Batistuta, Sala took a huge gamble when he left his homeland aged 14 to join the Bordeaux academy. Growing up in Argentina, there was not much money as Sala’s dad was a driver.
On leaving home at a young age’My mum found it so hard when I left. Other people in the town did not agree that a child could leave a village so young. Since I moved away, we have always spoken every day, about our hopes, worries and dreams.’
In the early days in France, he had loan spells in the top three flights of French football.Sala was even turned down by an Italian third division side. During his time with French club Niort he was often referred to as “the local Carlos Tevez”. Sala’s next loan move took him to Caen. It wasn’t always easy for him, a joint Italian-Argentine national, to be constantly on the move. But he eventually found his feet at Nantes, where he won an initial five-year contract. He was fully immersed in French culture, speaking the language fluently, but he retained his Latin heritage by holidaying in Spain and always drinking mate, the favoured hot drink of so many South American stars.
Sala had proved himself with clubside Nantes and was ready to join Cardiff’s relegation fight for a bigger challenge. Sala had plans to end his career in Argentina ‘I left Argentina behind so young and I want to discover it again at some point. It would be a dream to do so at Independiente, the club I supported.’
At Nantes, his French team-mates had only respect and admiration for his achievements and before his £15million move to Cardiff was finalised, his peers prepared a special showreel of Sala’s goals and best moments to celebrate his transfer.
At 28, Emiliano Sala, whose death in a light aircraft crash has been announced, had just made the biggest step of his career after signing for Cardiff, His mother who spoke with him before the trip said ‘He was so happy, this was the best moment of his career,’