Sol Bamba has said some of his Cardiff City teammates are scared to fly after the disappearance of Emiliano Sala. The captain laid bare the depth of anguish that has gripped the club and community, describing it as having affected everyone.
Sala, who signed for Cardiff in a club-record £15m deal from Nantes, was on board a single-engined private jet that has been missing in the English Channel since Monday of last week. A crowdfunded search operation continues for him and the pilot David Ibbotson.
Cardiff returned to action in the Premier League at Arsenal on Tuesday night, playing well but losing 2-1 after a buildup that was shaped by sessions with a psychologist as much as anything on the training pitch.
“It’s very difficult to even describe the emotions,” Bamba said. “It’s something unusual, a big tragedy, and we’ve all been affected by it – the lads and the city, the whole club. I think we needed this game to get back to normal but it’s been a very, very difficult week.
“We travel with planes and everything and some of the lads were maybe thinking they don’t want to go on it anymore. It was that deep. The gaffer and the club have been good in terms of bringing someone in to talk to if we need it and a few of the lads have needed that to get it off their chests.
“Obviously before the game, there was a feeling of ’let’s do it for Sala’. The gaffer said if anyone didn’t feel like playing, just say it and he wouldn’t hold it against them. But the lads all wanted to play for him and for the club. Credit to everyone.”
Bamba shares an agent with Sala and had told the 28-year-old all about the club and the challenge that awaited him in England. “I spoke to him before he signed,” Bamba said. “He asked about the club, the dressing room, would he fit into the team, what the gaffer and the city are like. I told him only good things and he was looking forward to it.
“He came to visit the stadium and the training ground. He’s been talking to the lads to say hello and he was definitely part of us. We feel like we’re missing him. Obviously I have a personal connection with him through my agent but I can’t say I feel more sad than the other lads. The fans never met him but what they did for him was remarkable. We’re sure we’ll never forget that.
“We said back home that where there’s life, there’s hope and you never know what is going to happen. The search continues and hopefully we can find something good for the family, in particular. I’ve got kids myself so I can imagine how the family feel.”
Cardiff, who are third from bottom in the table, return to their home stadium on Saturday to face Bournemouth. “Our home form has been better and we fancy ourselves against anyone there,” Bamba said. “It’s going to be very emotional but as soon as the game starts we’ll be professional and try to do a job and make sure we win because it’s going to be a very important game for us.”