Teams across the Champions League and Europa League observed a moment of silence for Emiliano Sala this week. Photo: Sergey Pivovarov/Reuters

PROGRESO, Argentina – The coffin of footballer Emiliano Sala, who died in a plane crash between Nantes and Cardiff, arrived in Argentina on Friday ahead of his funeral in his home town of Progreso.

The British Airways flight carrying the body landed shortly after 9am local time (1200 GMT) at Buenos Aires airport.

A van waited to drive it for funeral ceremonies in north-eastern Santa Fe, the capital of Santa Fe province, before it is returned to the family for final rites on Saturday.

“This is a day of historic grief for Progreso. We could never have imagined this, we are all in a state of shock,” Daniel Ribero, president of the San Martin de Progreso club, where Sala played for 10 years.

Sala’s body was recovered from the plane wreckage in the English Channel last week. He was flying to his new team, English Premier League side Cardiff City, from his old French club Nantes when his plane went missing on January 21.

The 28-year-old died of “head and trunk injuries,” an inquest in England heard on Monday.

He was travelling in a light aircraft that disappeared near the British island of Guernsey.

The wreckage was found on the seabed, but 59-year-old pilot David Ibbotson remains missing.

Sala’s former team gave him a rousing send off on Sunday, playing a French league match in a special all black kit for the occasion, with each player wearing the Argentine’s name on the back of their jersey rather than their own.

AFP