'A bad dream': Emiliano Sala's father reacts after plane carrying missing footballer and his pilot found in English Channel

'A bad dream': Emiliano Sala's father reacts after plane carrying missing footballer and his pilot found in English Channel

THE FATHER of missing footballer Emiliano Sala has spoken of his anguish after wreckage of the plane that was carrying his son was discovered in the English Channel last night.

Argentine striker Sala, 28, and pilot David Ibbotson, 59, disappeared on January 21 during a flight from Nantes in France to Cardiff.

On Sunday night, a private underwater search located wreckage from the Piper PA-46 Malibu light aircraft that had been carrying the pair on the seabed around 24 miles north of Guernsey.

Speaking at his home in Argentina on Monday morning, Horacio Sala said he was still in disbelief about what had happened to his son.

"I cannot believe it. This is a dream. A bad dream. I am desperate," Mr Sala told local broadcaster Cronica TV.

Sala, 28, had been flying to Cardiff after completing a club record £15m transfer from Nantes (Image: CCFC)

"I communicated with [search teams] every day, but since I do not have WhatsApp it's hard to call them or call me.

"I just don't know what to say. I can't believe this has happened to Emiliano."

Two vessels - including one commissioned by the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) - had been using sonar to scour four square nautical miles of seabed as part of a privately-funded operation on behalf of the Sala family, which was made possible after well-wishers raised over £250,000.

Marine scientist David Mearns, director of Blue Water Recoveries, led a team on the search vessel FPV Morven while the AAIB sent another team aboard Geo Ocean III before the former finally located plane wreckage on Sunday.

Mr Mearns, who has located several major shipwrecks during his career, tweeted: "Wreckage of the plane carrying Emiliano Sala and piloted by David Ibbotson was located early this morning by the FPV MORVEN.

"As agreed with the AAIB they moved the GEO OCEAN III over the position we provided them to visually identify the plane by ROV.

"The families of Emiliano Sala and David Ibbotson have been notified by Police. The AAIB will be making a statement tomorrow. Tonight our sole thoughts are with the families and friends of Emiliano and David."

An official search operation had been called off on January 24 after Guernsey's harbour master Captain David Barker said the chances of survival for Mr Sala and Mr Ibbotson were "extremely remote".

Sala had been had been on his way to South Wales to meet up with his new Cardiff City teammates when he vanished alongside British father-of-three Mr Ibbotson.

The Argentine striker had signed for the club for a club record £15million fee from French club Nantes.