Sol Bamba: Cardiff players 'afraid to fly' after Emiliano Sala's plane vanished

Sol Bamba led Cardiff City out carrying daffodils in tribute to missing striker Emiliano Sala
Sol Bamba led Cardiff City out carrying daffodils in tribute to missing striker Emiliano Sala

Defender Sol Bamba says some of the Cardiff City players were afraid to fly following the disappearance of record signing Emiliano Sala.

Tributes were paid to Sala on Tuesday in Cardiff's 2-1 defeat at Arsenal.

The Argentine forward, 28, and pilot David Ibbotson were on board a light aircraft that disappeared from radar over the Channel Islands on 21 January.

"It is very difficult to even describe how the players are feeling," Bamba told BBC Sport Wales.

"It is a very unusual situation, a big tragedy.

"We have all been affected by it, the lads, the city, the whole club.

"We have had some help. We travel by plane and some of the lads have been thinking 'I don't want to go on it anymore.'

"It was that deep, the gaffer has been good and the club have been good in terms of bringing someone in to talk to if we need to.

"And I think some of the lads do, they need to get it out. So I think it was good thinking from the club and the gaffer and hopefully in the weeks to come we are going to feel better."

An official search for Sala and Ibbotson, 59, of Crowle, Lincolnshire, was called off on Thursday.

Sala's family are planning a private search of the English Channel, paid for by fundraisers.

Floral tributes were laid at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium where Cardiff played their first game since Sala's disappearance.

He was named in the matchday programme squad list with a graphic of a daffodil next to where the former FC Nantes striker's number would have been.

Bamba said it was a difficult night for Cardiff's players, though manager Neil Warnock described it as their "best performance of the season".

Media playback is not supported on this device

Arsenal 2-1 Cardiff: Warnock angered by 'amateurish' Ecuele Manga foul

The defender, who spoke to Sala on the telephone to try and convince him to join Cardiff, says Warnock gave the Cardiff players the option of missing the Arsenal match.

"Obviously it was very emotional for us after what happened, but as professionals we've got a job to do and obviously we wanted to win the game, but it wasn't to be," Bamba added.

"I think we needed something like this game to get under way so we can try and get back to normal. It's been a very difficult week.

"Obviously we wanted to do well for Sala. The gaffer has been good and said 'if anyone does not feel like playing, they don't have to.'

"He wouldn't hold it against anyone, but everyone wanted to play for him (Sala) and for the club."

Bamba says the last time he spoke with Sala the Argentine said he was excited to be joining the Bluebirds.

"I knew Emiliano personally as I have a connection to him through my agent," he said.

"He came to the club to visit the stadium and training ground and had been talking to the lads to say hello. So he was definitely a part of us and we feel like we are missing him.

"I spoke to him in the lead up to him signing, he asked me about the club, about the dressing room, is he going to fit into the team, what the gaffer is like.

"He asked about the city and obviously I only said good things. He was looking forward to it.

"But it is not just me finding it difficult, even though I had a personal connection to him.

"I don't feel more sad than the other lads, everyone feels sad, the whole club. The whole community is sad, the fans never met him, but what they did for him was remarkable, we will never forget that.

"The search continues and hopefully we can find something good, because for the family particularly it must be very difficult."

Top Stories