Authorities have confirmed that professional soccer player Emiliano Sala was killed when his plane crashed into the ocean

By Joelle Goldstein
February 07, 2019 09:16 PM

After almost three weeks of searching, authorities have confirmed that professional soccer player Emiliano Sala was killed when the plane he was traveling from France to Wales in crashed into the ocean.

Dorset Police revealed Thursday that Sala, 28, had been identified by HM Coroner after his body was recovered from the wreckage the previous day.

“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. Our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time,” Dorset Police wrote, adding that they were continuing an investigation of his death with HM Coroner.

Following the news, Cardiff City Football Club, the team Sala had signed with just days before the crash, issued a statement regarding his death on their website, along with a photo of the athlete.

“We offer our most heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the family of Emiliano,” they wrote. “He and David will forever remain in our thoughts.”

Sala’s sister Romina also spoke out on Facebook Thursday and shared a photo of the soccer star standing on the field with his arms open and head towards the sky.

“Your soul in my soul, it will shine forever, thus illuminating the time of my existence. I love you tito,” she wrote.

The plane, piloted by Ibbotson, 59, and carrying Sala, was traveling from Nantes, France, to Cardiff, Wales, when it disappeared from radar over the English Channel on Jan. 21, according to The Washington Post.

The wreckage of the plane was discovered with an unidentified body inside on Sunday in a private search funded by Sala’s friends, family and fellow players. At the time, both Ibbotson and Sala were presumed dead, the paper said.

Though Sala’s body has since been identified, investigators have not yet found Ibbotson, BBC reported.

RELATED VIDEO: 5 People Killed After Plane Crashes Into California Home: ‘It Felt Like a Bomb,’ Says Neighbor

Earlier this week, Romina shared a heartbreaking photo of her brother’s loyal dog Nala waiting for her dog dad to return home.

“Nala is waiting for you, too,” she captioned the shot showing the dog sitting in front of a large window, with her back to the camera, staring out at the sunset as though she expects someone’s arrival.

According to the Evening Standard, Sala put Nala in a kennel in Nantes before boarding the plane.

After being sold by French soccer club FC Nantes to the Premier League’s Cardiff City F.C., the Argentine athlete was preparing to move to Wales to start this new stage of his career.