1. ITV Report

Emiliano Sala: A career cut short just as it looked set to reach its peak

Credit: PA

Emiliano Sala had just earned the biggest move of his career when he died at the age of 28.

The Argentinian footballer was flying from Nantes to Cardiff on January 21 when the light aircraft he was aboard lost radar signal over the English Channel close to Guernsey.

Sala was due to start a new life as a Premier League striker.

The 28-year-old was on his way to a new life as a Premier League striker. Sala was Cardiff City's record signing and the man they hoped would fire them away from trouble in the fight against relegation.

The Argentinian had only completed the details of his transfer two days earlier before returning to France to bid farewell to his Nantes team-mates.

Tributes have been paid to the striker by former teammates. Credit: PA

The move to Cardiff had been reward for a player who was enjoying the best form of his career.

Emiliano Sala was born in Santa Fe, in northeastern Argentina, in 1990, to parents Horacio and Mercedes. His father a van driver, Sala dreamed of following in the footsteps of Argentina's prolific player Gabriel Batistuta.

Argentina striker Gabriel Batistuta. Credit: PA

Sala supported Independiente and played at youth level for Club Proyecto Crecer, a footballing academy aimed at developing young players with the potential to play in Europe.

Despite eventually heading to France and signing for Bordeaux in 2010, it would be two years before the player made his senior debut in February 2012.

A series of loan spells followed. The striker played for Orleans, Niort and Caen. It was his performances for Caen which persuaded Nantes to sign him in the summer of 2015, and it was in Brittany where his career began to flourish.

Tributes have been laid outside the player's former club in Nantes. Credit: PA

Sala scored 42 goals for the Canaries, and was enjoying his best season yet this campaign - bagging 12 goals in 16 Ligue 1 appearances. The stats put him ahead of Paris St Germain's superstar forward Neymar, third in the league's scoring charts.

Building a reputation as a skilled finisher, especially from headers and off set-pieces, Cardiff were convinced Sala could be the answer to their own woes in front of goal.

Cardiff's deal to sign Sala was worth in the region of £15 million, breaking the previous record of £11 million. In order to gain his signature the Bluebirds had to fend off a late big-money bid from China, but Sala was keen to play in the Premier League.

Sala's signing broke Cardiff's previous record.

Outside of football, Sala was a keen guitarist and renowned bookworm. He enjoyed crime novels, dramas and Chinese philosophy.

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