FOOTIE ace Emiliano Sala has been confirmed dead after the Cardiff City striker's body was pulled from plane crash wreckage in the English Channel.

His devastated sister Romina led the tributes to the talented footballer, saying: “Your soul will shine forever”.

The world of football united in grief over the loss, with Sala's new club and teammates saying the Argentinian will "forever remain in our thoughts".

Sala's body was recovered from the small plane, which was found on the bottom of the ocean north of Guernsey, on Wednesday - more than two weeks after it disappeared.

The 28-year-old was identified by the Dorset coroner on Thursday - but so far there has been no reported trace of pilot David Ibbotson.

The footballer's family has been told the devastating news and they are being supported by specially-trained family liaison officers.

"Our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time," a spokesman for Dorset Police said.

"HM Coroner will continue to investigate the circumstances of this death supported by Dorset Police."

After the announcement, Romina took to Instagram to say: “Your soul in my soul it will shine forever thus illuminating the time of my existence.

“I love you.”

Cardiff City shared the tragic news and said: "We offer our most heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the family of Emiliano.

"He and David will forever remain in our thoughts."

Sala's teammate Joe Bennett tweeted a crying emoji and wrote: "RIP Emiliano".

Fellow Cardiff player Sol Bamba added: "Tragic... May you rest in peace."

The devastating announcement came hours after Sala's sister Romina posted a picture of the 28-year-old with their mum Mercedes ahead of the official news.
Fans reacted online by voicing their pain at the news.

The Piper Malibu N264DB plane went missing at around on January 21 en route from Nantes to Cardiff, where Sala was due to join his new club after a £15 million transfer.

An official search was called off on January 24 but more than £300,000 was raised by footie stars including Lionel Messi to fund a private search.

The wreckage was discovered by the Air Accident Investigation Branch and robots subs were used to pull the body out of the 220ft-deep water "in as dignified a way as possible" yesterday.

"In challenging conditions, the AAIB and its specialist contractors successfully recovered the body previously seen amidst the wreckage," the AAIB said.

"The operation was carried out in as dignified a way as possible and the families were kept informed of progress."

The rescuers said attempts to pull up the plane wreckage were "unsuccessful" because of poor weather.

"The weather forecast is poor for the foreseeable future and so the difficult decision was taken to bring the overall operation to a close," the AAIB said.

"Although it was not possible to recover the aircraft, the extensive video record captured by the ROV is expected to provide valuable evidence for our safety investigation.

"We expect our next update to be an interim report, which we intend to publish within one month of the accident occurring."

Shipwreck hunting expert David Mearns, who assisted in the second search, said his thoughts were with the family and friends of both Sala and Mr Ibbotson.

He tweeted: "Rest in Peace Emiliano.

"I was glad to provide some small comfort to Romina, Mercedes and the whole Sala family during the past two weeks but my heart goes out to the family and friends of David Ibbotson whose loss is the same."

Last week the AAIB said two seat cushions believed to be from the plane were found off Normandy.

The wreckage of the aircraft was found on Sunday morning by Mr Mearns who used sonar technology to scan the seabed off Alderney in the Channel Islands.

Within a few hours boat FBV Morven picked up a signal and a remote-controlled submarine fitted with a camera was sent down to formally identify the wreckage.

Experts believe it entered the English Channel in one piece, which may explain why it has been found so quickly.

Sala's plane vanished at around 8.30pm on January 21, with aviation experts claiming ice on the wings could have caused it to crash into the Channel.

The footie ace sent WhatsApp messages to his friends as the plane lurched in rough conditions, saying the plane “looks like it’s going to fall apart”.

He wrote: "Boys, I'm here on top of the plane that looks like it's about to fall apart. And I'm going to Cardiff, crazy, tomorrow we already started. In the afternoon we started to train, boys, in my new team.”

Sala later sent another message saying: “If you do not have any more news from in an hour and a half, I don’t know if they need to send someone to find me...I am getting scared!”

The family of missing pilot David Ibbotson who is feared dead in the plane crash with Sala are reportedly "beside themselves with grief" as they do not know what has happened to him.

Mr Ibbotson's wife Nora has been desperately waiting for news at her home in Crowle, near Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire.

A relative of the heartbroken family told the MailOnline: "What's happened is awful and all we want is for David's body to be found so we can lay him to rest properly, as he deserves, and pay our respects.

"Not knowing where he is and if his body has been found or maybe never will be is the worst thing ever."

The pilot has two families - he has a wife, an ex wife and children from both marriages.

Married dad-of-three Mr Ibbotson, from Scunthorpe, told pals he was feeling 'a bit rusty' just days before the doomed aircraft vanished with the £15million football ace on board.

The plane had requested to descend then lost contact with Jersey air traffic control.

Football agent Willie McKay, who brokered the deal, said the incident had "been an absolute nightmare for us".

He said that if he had not allowed Sala to return to his old club to say goodbye to his former teammates and put his beloved dog Nala in kennels "he would still be with us".

Last week it was revealed how the agent's chosen pilot David Henderson, 60, subbed the job to Mr Ibbotson after asking: "Do you want to spend a weekend in Nantes?"

Football was united in grief for tragic Sala he was confirmed to have died in the plane crash.

Stars from around the world including Kylian Mbappe, Alexandre Lacazette and Benjamin Mendy led the tributes online after the coroner identified the body.

France World Cup winner and Paris Saint-Germain sensation Mbappe - who donated £26,000 to help fund the private search for the plane Sala was on - posted a photo of a candle burning with 'Sala 9' on it.

He wrote alongside the image: "RIP EMI."

Diego Maradona, who was among those to call on authorities not to give up trying to find the footballer, posted a tribute on Instagram.

He told how many had kept a "light of hope" for the footballer, adding: "I send a big hug to your family and friends".

Arsenal star Lacazette posted a photo of Sala with the message "1990-2019 RIP."

Man City star Mendy posted a photo of Sala celebrating when in action for Nantes and wrote: "RIP."

Chelsea's Batshuayi, on loan at Crystal Palace, wrote: "Resting in peace."

The Argentine Football Association wrote on their official Twitter: "We send our condolences to all your family and loved ones."