Emiliano Sala pilot David Ibbotson's family post tearjerking message to supporters as GoFundMe appeal tops £117,000

Danielle Ibboston, daughter of the pilot David, wrote on the fundraising page: "From the bottom of my heart! Thank you to each and everyone for your kindness.

"We will keep you all posted once we know more information on what is going to happen and the plan.

Ibbotson, 59, was flying Cardiff City striker, Sala, 28, from Nantes to the Welsh capital when the Piper Malibu crashed into the sea on January 21.

The official search was called off after four days, but more than £260,000 was raised to fund a private search.

The investigation led the discovery of the footballer’s body on February 4, but Ibbotson’s remains have yet to be discovered.

The pilot’s family launched a GoFundMe page on Friday pleading “we need him home so that we are able to lay him to rest”.

The Match of the Day presenter donated £1,000, making it the second largest pledge on to the fundraising campaign.

The French football star has made the single largest donation this morning under the name Ellie Lottin.

Mbappe previously donated £26,267 (€30,010) along with a host of other football stars for the private search.

The latest fundraising page has raised more than £110k of their £300k goal has been raised.

Lineker also shared the GoFundMe page on his social media.

He then urged Cardiff City and Nantes to donate as the two clubs are preparing for a legal dispute over Sala’s £15m transfer fee.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) stated the search had been brought to an end and the operation to raise the wreckage abandoned due to bad weather.

On Friday Sala’s family urged authorities to continue looking for the pilot’s body.

They said in a statement: "It is with infinite sadness that we confirm the identity of Emiliano's body.

"We would like to thank you for all your signs of affection and support in what is the most painful time of our lives.

"Seeing the whole world mobilised to support us in our research has been an infinitely precious help. Thanks to you, we are now able to mourn our son, our brother.

"On this Friday morning, our thoughts go to David Ibbotson and his family, hoping that the authorities will do their best to find him."


The GoFundMe page, set up by Ibbotson’s daughter Danielle, hopes to raise enough money to launch another private search.

The page says: "Please help bring David Ibbotson home and help give him the send off he deserves.

"As a family we are relying on the kindness of the good-hearted people to help us raise the much needed funds to help us find our beloved Dad, Husband and Son.

"As a family we are trying to come to terms with the tragedy and the loss of two incredible men.

"To be told the search has now been called off for the foreseeable future has only made this tragic time more difficult.

"We can not bare the thought of him being alone, we need him home so that we are able to lay him to rest.

"Any donations would be very much appreciated.

"Thank you so much for your support Ibbotson Family."

Donations can be made here.


The Piper Malibu N264DB plane went missing on January 21 en route from Nantes to Cardiff, where Sala was due to join his new club after a £15million 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 AAIB and robots subs were used to pull the body out of the 220ft-deep water "in as dignified a way as possible"..

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

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

FAREWELL SALA: Ace died at the peak of his career

Emiliano Sala had just earned the biggest move of his career when he died at the age of 28.

The Argentinian was flying from Nantes to Cardiff on January 21 when the light aircraft he was aboard ran in to trouble over the English channel close to Guernsey.

It was supposed to be a flight taking him to a new life as a Premier League striker – Cardiff's record signing and the man they hoped would fire them away from trouble in the fight against relegation.

Sala, who was unmarried, had only completed the details of his transfer two days earlier before returning to France to bid farewell to his Nantes team-mates.

The move to Cardiff had been reward for a player who was enjoying the best form of his career.

Born in Santa Fe, in northeastern Argentina, in 1990, to parents Horacio and Mercedes, his father a van driver, Sala dreamed of following in the footsteps of Gabriel Batistuta.

The Independiente fan played at youth level for Club Proyecto Crecer, a footballing academy aimed at developing young players with the potential to play in Europe.

Despite eventually heading to France and signing for Bordeaux in 2010, it would be two years before Sala, a player always looking to strike on the counter attack, made his senior debut in February 2012.

A series of loan spells followed, Sala playing for Orleans, Niort and Caen, where he demonstrated his eye for goal.

It was his performances for Caen which persuaded Nantes to sign him in the summer of 2015, and it was in Brittany where his career began to flourish.

Sala scored 42 goals for the Canaries, and was enjoying his best season yet this campaign, having bagged 12 goals in 16 Ligue 1 appearances to stand ahead of Paris St Germain's superstar forward Neymar, third in the league's scoring charts.

A hat-trick against Toulouse in October was the first by any Nantes player in Ligue 1 since Mamadou Diallo's 2006 treble, and his goals accounted for almost half of Nantes' tally of 26.

Building a reputation as a skilled finisher, especially from headers and off set-pieces, Cardiff were convinced Sala – a keen guitarist and renowned bookworm, losing himself in crime and drama fiction not to mention Chinese philosophy – could be the answer to their own woes in front of goal.

Cardiff's deal to sign Sala was worth in the region of £15million, breaking the previous record of £11million paid for Gary Medel in 2013.

In order to gain his signature the Bluebirds had to fend off a late big-money bid from China, but Sala was keen to play in the Premier League.

He never got the chance, his career cut short just as it looked set to reach its peak.

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

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

"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 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."


On January 30, 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, 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!”

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