Emiliano Raúl Sala Taffarel (Spanish pronunciation: [emiˈljano ˈsala]; 31 October 1990 – 21 January 2019) was an Argentine professional footballer who played as a forward.
After playing youth football in Argentina and following a short spell in Portugal's regional leagues, Sala began his professional career in France with Bordeaux, making his professional debut in February 2012. After struggling to break into the first team, he was loaned out to Championnat National side Orléans and Ligue 2 side Niort in consecutive seasons. He enjoyed prolific spells with both clubs, scoring 39 goals between them, before returning to Bordeaux. After initially being promised an increased role after his successful loans, Sala fell out of favour again, and instead, joined fellow Ligue 1 side Caen on loan.
In 2015, he signed for Nantes on a permanent basis. With Nantes, he made more than 100 appearances in Ligue 1, and achieved a successful goalscoring record, finishing as the club's top goalscorer for three consecutive seasons. His form prompted a move to Cardiff City in January 2019, for a club record fee of £15 million (€18 million).
Sala died in a plane crash off Alderney on 21 January 2019. He was flying from Nantes to Cardiff aboard a Piper Malibu light aircraft. An initial three-day search covered 1,700 square miles (4,400 km2) across the English Channel. Two subsequent private searches were launched, resulting in the discovery of the wreckage on 3 February; Sala's body was recovered four days later.
He is also known as Emiliano Raúl Sala Taffarel.
After completing his medical at Cardiff, Sala returned to Nantes on Saturday 19 January, on a plane arranged by football agent Mark McKay. His intention was to return to Cardiff on Monday 21 January, in order to attend his first training session with his new club the following morning. Sala had been invited to attend Cardiff's match against Newcastle United by manager Neil Warnock, but he returned to France to say goodbye to his Nantes teammates and collect personal belongings.
On 21 January the Piper Malibu aircraft, which was flying Sala from Nantes to Cardiff, disappeared off Alderney. The same aircraft and pilot had flown Sala to Nantes two days earlier. On 23 January, Channel Islands Air Search reported that there was "no hope" of finding any survivors in the water.
An audio message, allegedly sent from the plane by Sala to his friends via WhatsApp, was released by Argentine media outlet Olé. The audio message translates as follows: