A volleyball player says she had a secret relationship with Emiliano Sala and spoke to him just hours before the footballer died in a plane crash over the Channel.
Luiza Ungerer, 31, claims to have last seen the Cardiff City star on his birthday, one week before the tragic incident.
The Brazilian said that she met the 28-year-old while they were both playing for teams in France.
The volleyball player (pictured, left, with Sala, and, right) declared that she would love the Cardiff City star forever when she heard the news that his body had been discovered
Luiza (pictured) described Sala as a simple man who would be confused at how well-liked he was for his football skills
After hearing that the player’s body had been recovered, she wrote online: ‘I’m going to love you forever!’
Luiza, who plays for Beziers Angels in France, told news site Globo that it was Sala’s dream to play in the Premier League, which he was heading to do when he was killed after a record £15million signing.
She says they started speaking over social media in September 2017, adding he was ‘very happy’ to be heading to Cardiff from Nantes.
Sala (pictured with Luiza) died of massive injuries to his head and chest, an inquest heard yesterday
The volleyball star (pictured at France’s National Cup final in 2016) wrote that she will love the footballer forever
The sunken wreckage of Emiliano Sala’s plane that crashed into the English Channel killing the Cardiff City striker and pilot Dave Ibbotson
Body of pilot Dave Ibbotson whose body is still to be recovered from the depths of the Channel after search crews hauled Emiliano Sala’s remains from beneath the surface
Timeline: How the Sala tragedy unfolded
January 21, 2019:
The single-turbine engine Piper PA-46 Malibu leaves Nantes at 7.15pm for Cardiff and is flying at an altitude of 5,000ft. At 8.50pm the plane disappears from radar in the English Channel.
The French civil aviation authority confirms Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala, 28, who had just signed for Cardiff City, was on board the light aircraft. Piloting the plane was David Ibbotson, from Crowle, near Scunthorpe.
Guernsey’s harbour master Captain David Barker says the chances Sala and Mr Ibbotson have survived is ‘extremely remote’.
It emerges that football agent Willie McKay arranged for the flight to take Sala to Cardiff but he says he had no involvement in selecting the plane or pilot. He also backs calls for the search to continue.
Relatives and friends of Sala arrive in Guernsey, having enlisted the help of shipwreck hunting expert David Mearns.
Sala’s family, including his mother Mercedes and sister Romina, take a chartered flight in a plane operated by Guernsey airline Aurigny over the area where the plane disappeared.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) says two seat cushions found washed up earlier in the week near Surtainville on the Cotentin Peninsula are likely to have come from the plane carrying Sala and his pilot.
Wreckage of the plane is located in a fresh, privately funded search which was made possible after a fundraising campaign saw more than £260,000 donated.
A body is visible in seabed video footage of the wreckage of the plane. The AAIB says the footage was filmed using an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) which was surveying the area after the plane was located.
A body seen in the wreckage of the plane is recovered. The AAIB says the body will be taken to Portland to be passed over to the Dorset coroner for examination.
The aircraft remains 67 metres underwater 21 miles off the coast of Guernsey. The AAIB says attempts to recover the aircraft wreckage were unsuccessful and, due to continued poor weather forecast, ‘the difficult decision was taken to bring the overall operation to a close’.
The Geo Ocean III search boat returns to dock in Portland, Dorset, carrying the wreckage of the Piper Malibu aircraft. Investigators wait to confirm if the body inside the wreckage is that of the pilot or the Argentinian footballer.
‘It made me really glad because he was very happy,’ she said. ‘It was his dream, to play in the Premier League, the best competition in the world.’
When his body was brought ashore from the Channel, she wrote online: ‘Like you always said to me: “Thank you for being how you are.” I’m going to love you forever!’
The volleyball star added: ‘What I wanted was for him to come back. There are lots of people asking me horrible things about the accident. It’s really difficult.’
She said that Sala was a ‘simple person’ with a pure heart and had no bad intentions. Luiza described him being surprised when people praised him in the street for his performances on the pitch.
Luiza said she clung onto hope after Sala disappeared because hope was all she had in the immediate aftermath.
Sala died from massive injuries to his head and chest and could only be identified by his fingerprints, an inquest heard yesterday.
But the body of his pilot David Ibbotson was not found in the wreckage of the Piper Malibu that disappeared over the Channel last month.
Brendan Allen, acting senior coroner for Dorset, adjourned proceedings in Bournemouth until November 6 for a pre-inquest review.
He told the hearing this was because an Air Accidents Investigation Branch inquiry into the tragedy could take between six months and a year.
Police announced last week that a body recovered from the plane wreckage was that of the Argentinean striker.
Following the announcement, Sala’s sister Romina posted a picture of him on Instagram, with the poignant message: ‘Your soul in my soul, it will shine forever, illuminating my existence. I love you, Tito.’
The family released a statement thanking the public for their support at what they described as ‘ the most painful time of our lives’.
Sala was flying to start his new life in the UK from Nantes in France after his £15million signing to Cardiff FC when the plane went down.
Last week Sala’s girlfriend Berenice Schkair posted a picture on Instagram of a rose stuck into the sand next to the sea.
Mr Ibbotson’s daughter, sister and nephew were among loved ones paying respects to the 60-year-old gas engineer, part time pilot and devoted family man.
His younger sister Helen Kapatysulias wrote: ‘To David, my gentle brother. I have so many memories of you, mine is of you when you were coming home from school, you used to pick me up and carry me home. I will lock these memories in my heart forever.
‘All I would like is to see your face, smiling, cheekily, again. I know you’re safe wherever you are. I pray that one day I will see you again, my gentle Big Brother.
‘I love you forever and always and will never forget you.’
The families of both men remain intent on getting answers.