Thursday, April 25, 2019 | ePaper

Sala's last goal and last assist typified him as a player

  • Print


AP, Paris :
Emiliano Sala waited near the penalty spot, anticipating the ball's trajectory. When it finally came, he lurched forward and sent a powerful header into the bottom corner of the net.
It was the last goal Sala would ever score.
The Argentine forward, who scored that goal for Nantes on Dec. 5 in a 3-2 win over Marseille, was killed in a plane crash in the English Channel last month and his body was recovered from the seabed wreckage this week.
Sala had been flying from Nantes to Cardiff, where he had been planning to start a new career in the English Premier League. He was 28 years old, the prime age in soccer for a striker.
"Emiliano will always be among the legends who have written the great history of Nantes," the French club said Friday. "We have lost a friend, a talented player, an exemplary teammate." The fans there greatly appreciated what Sala did for their team.
After scoring that last goal, his 12th of the season, Sala sprinted toward the cheering Nantes fans that formed a mass of yellow shirts and scarves behind the goal. He leaped over the advertising hoardings with ease and stood with his chest proudly puffed out as the fans surged forward with open arms. A few fans even rushed from the stands to hug him, and the man wearing the No. 9 shirt received them warmly.
In honor of Sala, Nantes will retire the No. 9 jersey, and a minute's applause for him will be held at stadiums in France this weekend. Nantes will next play Nimes at home on Sunday.
Tall, strong, and good at heading, Sala had the attributes to succeed in the physically demanding Premier League.
He was also a man of loyalty, and the very reason he went back to France was to say goodbye to his teammates. Many of them were his friends.
His heart, as big as it was, also told him to say thank you to Nantes coach Vahid Halilhodzic.
Although their stint together was brief, lasting half a season, the mutual respect quickly grew. As a hard-working and combative center forward himself during a successful era for Nantes during the early 1980s, Halilhodzic appreciated Sala's work ethic, team work and sheer determination.
"Even when I replaced him near the end of games he never said a word," said Halilhodzic, who scored more than 100 goals for Nantes and won the league title in 1983. "He trusted me. We had deep discussions and strong relations between us."
While Sala's goal against Marseille showed his prowess as a center forward - and prompted Cardiff to pay a club-record 17 million euros ($19.3 million) to sign him - what he did next in that match really typified him.
After Marseille regained the lead at 2-1, Nantes equalized on the stroke of halftime - and Sala was at the heart of it. A high ball was lofted hopefully into the penalty area by defender Nicolas Pallois, who is now grieving his friend.
Sala had a defender on his back yet took the ball down expertly with his right foot, showing a surprisingly velvet touch for a tall player. Then, two more defenders came across as he cushioned the ball with his left foot, still holding them off with his back to goal. Sala momentarily lost control of the ball, which was unacceptable to someone with his fighting spirit. So he slid and stretched to reach it with his right foot and hooked it to teammate Abdoulaye Toure , who curled it in from the edge of the box.

More News For this Category

Iniesta named captain at Vissel Kobe

Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta has been handed the captain's armband at J-League outfit Vissel Kobe, the club announced, part of a shake-up following the sacking of their manager last week.

National Youth Handball begins today

The 4th Marcel National Youth (men's) Handball competition begins today (Thursday) at Shaheed Captain M Mansur Ali Handball Stadium with eight matches are billed for the opening day.Renowned sports journalist

(From left to right) Jung Hyelim of South Korea, Masumi Aoki of Japan, Manevanh Chanthavong of Laos compete during the women's 100m Hurdles round 1 at the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar on Tuesday.

(From left to right) Jung Hyelim of South Korea, Masumi Aoki of Japan, Manevanh Chanthavong of Laos compete during the women's 100m Hurdles round 1 at the Asian Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar on Tuesday.

Masataka Morizono (left) and Mima Ito of Japan play against Kutbidillo Teshaboev and Rozalina Khadijev of Uzbekistan during their mixed doubles qualifying match of the World Table Tennis Championships in Budapest,       Hungary on Monday.

Masataka Morizono (left) and Mima Ito of Japan play against Kutbidillo Teshaboev and Rozalina Khadijev of Uzbekistan during their mixed doubles qualifying match of the World Table Tennis Championships in Budapest, Hungary on Monday.

Nadal to face 63rd-ranked Mayer in Barcelona Open

Nadal to face 63rd-ranked Mayer in Barcelona Open

AP, Barcelona :Defending champion Rafael Nadal will face Leonardo Mayer in his first match at the Barcelona Open.Mayer defeated Marius Copil 6-3, 6-7 (3), 7-5 in the first round on

National Youth handball begins Thursday

The 4th Marcel National Youth (men's) handball competition begins from Thursday (April 25) at Shaheed Captain M Mansur Ali Handball Stadium in the city.A total of 12 district teams will

Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon (10) defends against Utah Jazz guard    Donovan Mitchell (center left) in the first half during Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series in Salt Lake City on Monday.

Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon (10) defends against Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (center left) in the first half during Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series in Salt Lake City on Monday.

Houston, Chengdu to host World Table Tennis Championships

Houston, Chengdu to host World Table Tennis Championships

Houston will host the 2021 World Table Tennis Championships, the first staged outside Europe or Asia since 1939, with Chengdu, China to follow in 2022, the International Table Tennis Federation

'Shattered': Lankan cricketer recounts church bombing horror

AFP, Sri Lanka :Sri Lankan cricketer Dasun Shanaka barely survived one of the deadly blasts that killed more than 320 people in the island nation on Easter Sunday, and says

Defence the key to Arsenal's top-four bid

Unai Emery is faced with a defensive dilemma that could make or break Arsenal's hopes of a top-four finish to their Premier League campaign.The Gunners travel to Wolves on Wednesday