Cardiff manager Neil Warnock says he has gone through the worst week of his career following the disappearance of a plane carrying the club’s record signing Emiliano Sala over the Channel Islands.
Warnock, 70, said he had spoken regularly to Sala before the Argentine signed for the Welsh side on January 19 in a £15 million ($20 million) deal just two days before the aircraft taking him from Nantes to Cardiff came down.
The official search for the player and pilot David Ibbotson was called off last Thursday, but fundraisers have helped pay Sala’s family continue a private search.
“You think 24 hours a day about whether to carry on,” Warnock said on Monday as he spoke to the media for the first time following Sala’s disappearance.
“It’s impossible to sleep. I’ve been in football management for 40 years and it’s been by far the most difficult week in my career, by an absolute mile.
“It’s been a traumatic week and even now I can’t get my head around the situation. It’s probably hit me harder than anyone else as I’ve met the lad and talked to him for the last six to eight weeks.”
Cardiff play for the first time since Sala’s disappearance when they visit Arsenal on Tuesday.
Warnock revealed that the League Managers’ Association had offered him support and that several Cardiff players had spoken to psychologists over the past week.
And he accepted it will be hard to lift his players in the fight for Premier League survival in the aftermath of such tragic circumstances.
“You have to in this instance,” said Warnock when asked if he had sought help. “Who motivates the motivator?
“I am OK when I’m in the public eye or with the players, it’s when I’m on my own or at home that you think about it.
“It’s probably the lads you don’t expect that needed more help. But I don’t think it does any harm to talk to anyone else.”