Emiliano Sala told his close friends he was 'scared' on 'a plane that seems like it is falling to pieces' in a voice note sent from the light aircraft which disappeared over the Channel on Monday night.
In the recording the Argentine footballer sounds calm but exhausted, as he tells friends they may need to 'send someone to find me' over the low roar of the plane's single propeller.
Sala and his pilot last made contact from their Piper FA-46 Malibu just off Alderney at 8.30pm on Monday. On Tuesday coastguard helicopters and lifeboats scoured 1,100 square miles of sea before halting the search at nightfall.
They found nothing but debris and Guernsey Police said the pair's chances of survival if they ditched in the icy waters were 'slim'. They warned they are not expecting to find survivors.
In the Whatsapp audio note, Sala said in Spanish: 'Hey guys, how is it going? Brother, I am really tired now. I was over in Nantes sorting things out, doing this, doing that.
'I am now aboard a plan that seems like it is falling to pieces. I'm going to Cardiff now, crazy, and tomorrow we get going. I will train with my new team tomorrow.'
In a separate note sent a little later, he said: 'How are you guys, all good?
'If you do not have any more news from in an hour and a half, I don't know if they need to send someone to find me. I am getting scared!'
Earlier it emerged he told his former Nantes teammate he 'feared for his safety' before he took off on his doomed flight across the English Channel.
The Argentinian striker completed a £15 million move to Cardiff City on Saturday. He returned to bid farewell to his old squad at Ligue 1 side Nantes, posting a poignant photo in which his former teammates sport their club's blue strip, and Sala is wearing a hoodie with the logo: 'Be good, be nice.'
His Instagram post of the photo bore the caption: 'The last goodbye'.
Sala was making a round trip in the same plane and when he arrived in France, he reportedly told ex-teammate Nicolas Pallois - who drove him back to Nantes-Atlantiqe airport - that the trip out 'had been bumpy and he feared his safety for the journey back.'
A French source close to the player said the six-seater plane only got airborne for the return trip after at least three failed attempts to take off from Nantes.
The 28-year-old was due to return to Wales in time for training this morning but the Piper Malibu aircraft he was in lost contact near the Casquets lighthouse off Alderney at 8.30pm on Monday.
Cardiff City chief executive Ken Choo said everyone at the club was 'very distressed' and 'praying for positive news.'
On Tuesday at 5pm Channel Islands rescue teams called off the search for the day. It is expected to resume today at first light.
In a statement Guernsey Police said: 'During the course of the 15-hour search, which used multiple air and sea assets from the Channel Islands, UK and France, a number of floating objects have been seen in the water.
'We have been unable to confirm whether any of these are from the missing aircraft.
'We have found no signs of those on board. If they did land on the water, the chances of survival are at this stage, unfortunately, slim.'
Sala posted this photograph to social media last year, and regularly kept fans updated with his training. Friends said he was 'fulfilling the dream of a lifetime' by moving to the UK, and 'could not wait to start playing in Cardiff'
The footballer's mother, Mercedes Taffarel, said her son was 'enjoying the best moment of his career so far.' Sala posted this image of himself with his mother alongside the caption, 'Thank you mum'
Speaking from Argentina, Sala's father Horacio said he was 'desperate' for news, and broke down in tears as he described him as a 'small town humble boy', adding: 'I just can't believe it.'
In an emotional statement the footballer's mother, Mercedes Taffarel, said her son was 'enjoying the best moment of his career so far.'
John Fitzgerald, chief officer of the Channel Islands Air Search, said he was not optimistic about finding Sala and the pilot.
He said: 'I don't think the coastguard are either. We just don't know how it disappeared. It just completely vanished. There was no radio conversation'.
Mr Fitzgerald said there could be a 'five per cent' chance of finding Sala and the pilot, adding: 'I think with the sea temperatures and the sea conditions the chances of finding anybody alive are reducing all the time.
'The sea temperatures are very, very cold and just sap the core temperature of anybody in the water very, very quickly.'
The aircraft left Nantes at 19.15 on Monday headed for Cardiff and was flying at 5,000 feet before it fell off the radar at 2,300ft during a descent cleared with Jersey air traffic controllers
This graphic shows the lifeboat's path as it circled Alderney during a nearly-24-hour-long search for the aircraft
French police, the French civil aviation authority and Nantes Football Club confirmed that Sala was one of the two people on board the single-prop plane.
The Piper Malibu was flying at 2,300ft and requested descent as it passed Guernsey but was lost off radar as Jersey air traffic control attempted to make contact. It went missing as severe weather warnings about snow and ice were issued across France.
A search which scrambled within minutes of the plane disappearing was called off at 2am on Tuesday morning 'due to strengthening winds, worsening sea conditions and reducing visibility' but resumed at 8am, before being halted overnight again at sunset on Tuesday.
Thousands of people have joined vigils in France and in Wales, and have laid wreaths outside Sala's former club in Nantes, and outside the ground of Cardiff City where he was due to start training on Tuesday morning.
This morning the official Nantes FC Twitter account posted a statement and a message to their followers about the missing striker, reading: 'The management and the whole Club are hopeful and it is the whole family of FC Nantes who prays that @EmilianoSala1 and the other passengers of the plane are finally found safe and sound.'
'FC Nantes joins the call of supporters for the rally tonight from 6.30 pm at the Royal Place in Nantes to drop a yellow tulip at the foot of the fountain,' they added in a second tweet.
The club later changed its profile picture to a photo of Sala.
Sala's former teammate, French Guingamp midfielder Lucas Deaux, tweeted: 'I hope from the bottom of my heart that this is not true.'
Sala was 'fulfilling the dream of a lifetime' by moving to the UK, and 'could not wait to start playing in Cardiff', according to a friend in France.
When he left the grounds yesterday to head to Cardiff, Nantes FC tweeted: 'Merci Emi, forever yellow and green.'
After joining Cardiff on Saturday, Sala's sister Romina proudly shared the news story about his signing, saying: 'Big brother :D'.
His father Horacio told Argentine channel C5N he was made aware of the news by a friend.
He said: 'A friend called me and told me what had happened. I'm in Rosario now, I'm working because I'm a truck driver. I didn't know anything. I just can't believe it. I'm desperate. I don't know what could have happened.'
He said striker Emiliano, from the small town of Progreso in Argentina's northeastern Santa Fe province, had been excited to be moving to Cardiff and playing in the Premier League.
He added: 'To get the chance to play at a big European club was an amazing step for him and for his town back home. He is a humble small town boy. Everybody is watching the TV and waiting. Hopefully some good news arrives.'
His mother, Mercedes Taffarel, told the same TV station: 'We don't have any more news. The only thing I know is that the plane took off and they are searching for it, we don't know anything yet, they haven't found anything.
'We are just here waiting, minute after minute. I spoke to him a few hours before he took off. I don't know what else to say, I'm so worried.
'They called me from France to tell me that his plane had gone missing and they were looking for him.
'We are in constant communication and desperate for good news. He was very happy and content with the transfer. He was enjoying the best moment of his career so far.
'He would come over often to visit us, and we would go to visit him there. He was alone, he didn't have any family members with him in France.'