Emiliano Sala: Nantes remembers player who won the city’s hearts


The sea of yellow flowers outside Nantes’ training ground is growing every hour.

Shirts, cards and candles all paying tribute to the Argentinian footballer, Emiliano Sala. One flag simply reads: “Don’t give up hope”.

Fans turn up in tears as they stare at the life-sized image of Sala that has now been pinned to the fence. He is a man that clearly won the hearts of people in this city. A city that he has called home for the last four years.

Many, including the French media, describe Sala as a fighter. He had fought his way up through the leagues in France and was at the peak of his career. This season, he was Nantes’ top goal scorer and his easygoing and laid back approach struck a chord with fans.

One lady recalls speaking to him at the local shop just a few days ago. He had been telling her about his impending move to Cardiff. Another says he was the most down to earth footballer that you could find.

Today Nantes’ first team held their first training session since the news broke. Players and staff were in tears as they made their way onto the pitch. It was, after all, only three days ago that Sala had eaten lunch with his teammates, as part of his goodbye, before heading to Cardiff.

Before training started players gathered in the centre of the pitch. A moment of reflection. And then hundreds of fans were allowed through the front gates, clapping the players as a mark of respect.

The club’s captain addressed the crowds, insisting that there would be no minute’s silence because they didn’t want to give up hope.

Everywhere you look, whether it be at the training ground, the stadium or in Nantes’ main square, there are yellow flowers – a symbol of this club – nicknamed the canaries.

With the search now called off, there is immense sadness in this city.

(c) Sky News 2019: Emiliano Sala: Nantes remembers player who won the city’s hearts

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