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Dublin: 5°C Thursday 4 March 2021
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‘Once a blue, always a blue’ - Sombre Emirates unites in tribute to Emiliano Sala

The result paled into insignificance on Tuesday night as supporters paid tribute to the Argentine striker who disappeared last week.

Tributes are paid to Emiliano Sala atthe Emirates Stadium.
Tributes are paid to Emiliano Sala atthe Emirates Stadium.

EMILIANO SALA WOULD have almost certainly made his debut for Cardiff against Arsenal on Tuesday night.

The Argentine striker was meant to have been registered in time for the Bluebirds match at the Emirates Stadium, but Neil Warnock’s side were instead faced with an emotional trip to north London without their new signing.

Sala signed for Cardiff on 19 January, and was flying back to Wales from France when his plane disappeared from radar last Monday evening.

An official search for Sala and pilot David Ibbotson was called off last week, with coastguards saying the chances of finding them alive were “extremely remote”. 

Football has united in grief since: a plea from Sala’s sister to continue the search privately resulted in over £290,000 being donated by the public , with many contributions coming from the footballing fraternity, including Arsenal captain Laurent Koscielny.

Sala’s name was included in Tuesday’s match-day programme, with a picture of a daffodil placed next to where his number would have been.

Daffodils were handed out to journalists in the press box and given to Arsenal fans by Cardiff supporters. A yellow mosaic lit up the away end as the Welsh club’s chief executive Ken Choo confirmed that the yellow flower “is the flower of Wales and has significant to Nantes”, Sala’s former club. “Forever a bluebird” read one banner, “once a blue, always a blue” read another.

The match itself was narrowly won 2-1 by Arsenal.

Warnock admitted before the game that he wasn’t sure how many of his players would be in the right frame of mind for a match that was played in the biting cold of north London, but his players put in a valiant effort throughout.

The result itself will not be remembered, but Emiliano certainly will. A banner in the Cardiff end emphasised just how much Sala means to them, even if he never got to wear the blue shirt that he was expected to play in from this week.

“We never saw you play, and we never saw you score, but Emiliano, our beautiful bluebird, we will love you forever more.”

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Join us to preview the Six Nations with Simon Zebo, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey on Thursday @7pm in Liberty Hall Theatre Dublin.

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