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Nantes to retire number 9 shirt in Sala tribute

France Missing Plane Sala

FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019, file photo, a Nantes soccer team supporters stops by a poster of Argentinian player Emiliano Sala and reading “Let’s keep hope” outside La Beaujoire stadium before the French soccer League One match Nantes against Saint-Etienne, in Nantes, western France. On Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, the man leading a private search for the missing plane carrying Argentine soccer player Emiliano Sala says the wreckage has been found. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)


Nantes has gone to great lengths to remember Emiliano Sala after his body was recovered from the airplane wreckage located in the English Channel and identified on Thursday.

Sala played four years at Nantes and made 133 appearances before his transfer to Cardiff City, and the French club is honoring his memory by retiring its number 9 jersey in his name. There will be a ceremony at Sunday’s match against fellow Ligue 1 side Nimes, and all ticket prices have been reduced €9 as part of his remembrance, ensuring that the stadium will be full for the pre-match event.

A club retiring the number 9 jersey is a massive honor, as it often is worn by the team’s main striker and is often worn as a symbol of goalscoring prowess. Players flock to the jersey number to show fans, opponents, and sponsors they are an important member of the squad.

“I don’t have the words. It’s a tragedy, I’m crushed,” Nantes president Waldemar Kita said. “Emiliano left his mark. “That’s why, like many fans, I wish to honor him by retiring the number nine.”

Sala wore number 9 at Nantes and scored 48 goals in his 133 appearances for the club, with 42 of those goals coming in Ligue 1 play. He was on fire this season prior to his departure, scoring 12 goals in 19 Ligue 1 appearances. He had not scored more than 12 goals a season in his three full campaigns with Nantes prior.

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