Police confirm body recovered from plane wreckage is that of Cardiff striker Emiliano Sala

Cardiff City’s match day programme showing Emiliano Sala on the cover last weekend (Mark Kerton/PA)

 A body recovered from underwater wreckage of the plane carrying Emiliano Sala has been formally identified as the Cardiff striker, police said.

Sala was identified by the Dorset coroner on Thursday after his body was pulled from the plane, which had been flown by pilot David Ibbotson, the previous day.

Dorset Police said in a statement: "The body brought to Portland Port today, Thursday February 7 2019, has been formally identified by HM Coroner for Dorset as that of professional footballer Emiliano Sala.

"The families of Mr Sala and the pilot David Ibbotson have been updated with this news and will continue to be supported by specially-trained family liaison officers.

"Our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time.

"HM Coroner will continue to investigate the circumstances of this death supported by Dorset Police."

Cardiff City fans in the stands at the Emirates Stadium (Nick Potts/PA)

The Piper Malibu N264DB plane lost contact with air traffic control over the Channel, north of Guernsey, on Monday January 21.

An initial search and rescue operation failed to locate the plane but it was later discovered by the Air Accident Investigation Branch and privately funded search teams.

The remains of the aircraft were tracked down by a team co-ordinated by ocean scientist David Mearns, who has located some of the most elusive wrecks in the world.

Mr Mearns – known as the “Shipwreck Hunter” – and his team located the aircraft within two hours of commencing their search.

He told the Press Association the discovery had been so quick because the team had been looking for a static object rather than in a dynamic environment searching for survivors.

"No-one should walk away with the impression that the Coastguard and also the Channel Islands air search did anything other than a professional job," he said.

The AAIB said it expected to publish an interim report within the month.