Cardiff manager Neil Harris has revealed how his players shared a training-ground moment of reflection this week to remember Emiliano Sala.
Tuesday marked the first anniversary of Sala’s death, the Argentinian forward killed on January 21, 2019 when the plane carrying him from Nantes in France to his new club Cardiff crashed in the English Channel.
The footballer’s body was recovered from the wreckage, but pilot David Ibbotson, from Crowle, North Lincolnshire, has still not been found.
“The players had a moment on the pitch on Tuesday morning to remember Emiliano,” Harris said.
“What they should have done in that moment is reflect where they are standing, what they do for a living and how fortunate they are.
“It gives you reflection time to realise how lucky we are as a group.”
Former Millwall boss Harris succeeded Neil Warnock as Cardiff manager in November and never knew Sala.
Harris, captain Sean Morrison and Sol Bamba were part of a club delegation that attended a service in memory of Sala and Ibbotson at St David’s Cathedral in Cardiff city centre on Tuesday.
“It was very touching, a very nice service,” Harris said.
“It was a fitting tribute to a man who plied his trade in our industry. Football comes together at moments like that.
“It was extremely sad for the group, staff and all the players.
“It was an opportunity for us to remember a young man and pilot who lost their lives and the families they left behind.
“It was important to represent the football club, the lad was signing for us.
“I look at it ultimately that he might have been here now. I might have been working with him.
“I didn’t know him, but it was hugely important to be there as manager of the football club.
“The players also showed that mark of respect that they would have enjoyed working with him.”
Fans left flowers, banners and shirts in memory of Sala at Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the 28-year-old’s death.
Sala was unveiled as a Cardiff player two days before the crash.
Cardiff, who were in the Premier League at the time, and Nantes have since been in dispute over fee payments.
The Welsh club have argued they were not liable for the full £15million transfer fee because Sala was not officially their player when he died.
FIFA ordered Cardiff to pay the first instalment of Sala’s transfer fee – 6million euros (just under £5.2m) – at the end of September
Cardiff appealed against that ruling and it will go before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The final decision is not expected before June 2020.