The worst fear of Ghanaians was confirmed on Saturday dawn February 18, 2023 when former Black Star star Christian Atsu has been confirmed dead following the devastating earthquake in southern Turkey and northern Syria last week.
Christian Atsu, a 31-year-old, has been missing since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that took place in the early hours of the morning of February 6, 2023.
Murat Uzunmehmet, Atsu’s agent revealed the devastating news while talking to reporters. He broke the news saying, “Atsu’s lifeless body was found under the rubble. Currently, more items are still being taken out. His phone was also found.”
Another of Atsu’s agents, Nana Sechere, also announced the news and commensurate with the family.
“It is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to announce to all well wishers that sadly, Christian Atsu’s body was recovered this morning.
“My deepest condolences go to his family and loved ones. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their prayers and support.”Nana Sechere
A tribute from Atsu’s current club, Hatayspor, called him “a beautiful person,” saying there were “no words to describe our sadness”.
“The funeral of our football player Christian Atsu, who lost his life under the collapse, is on his way to be sent to his hometown Ghana,” they said on Twitter
“We will not forget you, Atsu. Peace be upon you, beautiful person. There are no words to describe our sadness. Rest in peace.”Hatayspor
Atsu’s former club Everton were among the first Premier League sides to pay tribute.
“We are deeply saddened by today’s news that Christian Atsu has been found dead following the earthquake in Turkey earlier this month.
“Our thoughts are with his family, friends, colleagues at Hatayspor and everyone affected by this tragic event that has claimed so many lives.”Everton
Newcastle United– where Atsu spent four years of his career – said Atsu would be ‘fondly remembered’ by everyone at the club.
“A talented player and a special person, he will always be fondly remembered by our players, staff and supporters. Rest in peace, Christian.”Newcastle United FC
Chelsea, Atsu’s first Premier League club also said, “Everyone at Chelsea Football Club is devastated to learn of the tragic passing of our former player, Christian Atsu. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.”
There were hopes the former winger had been rescued after the disaster first unfolded, but Hatayspor and agent Sechere had revealed over the past week that these claims were untrue.
Several search and rescue operations in the debris of the building where Atsu and Hatayspor’s sporting director Taner Savut lived, took place– with Savut also missing.
Atsu’s Professional Career
Born January 10, 1992, in Ada Foah, Ghana, Atsu enjoyed an extremely impressive football career after he broke through with Portuguese giants Porto.
His exploits in Portugal – which also included a loan spell at Rio Ave – led to Atsu earning a move to Chelsea.
He spent five years at Stamford Bridge but never actually made an appearance for the first team as he spent temporary spells away from the club with Vitesse Arnhem, Everton, Bournemouth, Malaga and Newcastle, before he made a permanent move to the Magpies in 2016.
He was promoted to the Premier League with the club during the 2016-17 season under Rafa Benitez and he made 121 appearances in total over five years.
Atsu also had a decorated international career, winning 65 caps for Ghana and scoring nine goals, while he also represented Ghana at the 2014 World Cup.
He was awarded Player of the Tournament at the 2015 AFCON when the Black Stars came runners-up.
After growing up in Ghana, Atsu moved to Portugal to pursue his dream of becoming a professional footballer at the age of just 17.
Atsu was a devout Christian and married his wife Marie-Claire Rupio Atsu in 2012. The couple had three children together – two sons and a daughter.
The Earthquake that Killed Atsu
More than 45,000 people have been killed in the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria, and the toll is expected to soar with some 264,000 apartments in Turkey destroyed and many still missing in the country’s worst modern disaster.
Tremors from the deadly quake – which lasted about a minute and could be Turkey’s largest ever, were felt as far away as Egypt, Lebanon and the island of Cyprus.
Atsu had been scheduled to fly out of southern Turkey hours before the quake, but Hatayspor’s manager said on Friday the Ghanaian opted to stay with the club after scoring the game-winning goal in a Super Lig match on February 5, 2023.