Christian Atsu found dead following the earthquake in Turkey
Ghanaian football player Christian Atsu was found dead on Saturday after going missing in the major twin earthquakes in Türkiye, his agent and club confirmed.
“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, an agent for the 31-year-old footballer, stated on Twitter.
“Atsu’s lifeless body was found under the rubble,” Murat Uzunmehmet, Atsu’s Turkish agent, told reporters in the southern province of Hatay, one of the Turkish cities hard hit by the earthquakes last week.
“Currently, more items are still being taken out. His phone was also found,” Uzunmehmet added.
Noting that Atsu died while under the rubble, his club Atakas Hatayspor said the player’s body was being transferred to his hometown in Ghana. “We will not forget you, Atsu. Peace be upon you, beautiful person. There are no words to describe our sadness. REST in PEACE ATSU.”
Ghana’s winger Atsu, who last played for Türkiye’s Hatayspor, had been missing since the strong earthquakes hit southern Türkiye on Feb. 6.
On Twitter, the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) expressed its condolences to Atsu’s family and friends, stating that it was saddened to learn of his death in the disaster.
The body of former Newcastle United footballer Christian Atsu has been found under the rubble of the building where he lived in Turkey, his agent has said.
The Ghanaian, who played for Antakya side Hatayspor, had been misidentified and falsely reported as hospitalised “with injuries” last week following the earthquake which has killed more than 45,000 people.
Atsu’s agent, Nana Sechere, tweeted this morning: “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.
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 (@iAmNana7) February 18, 2023
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their prayers and support.
“I ask that whilst we make the necessary arrangements, that everyone would please respect the privacy of the family during this very difficult time.”
Atsu spent eight years signed to Premier League clubs including Chelsea, Bournemouth, Everton and Newcastle.
He was signed by Chelsea in 2013 before being sent on loan to Dutch club Vitesse.
The winger played for Everton, Bournemouth and Newcastle during loan spells from Stamford Bridge. The 31-year-old ended his Premier League career having made 121 appearances.
Atsu became a fan favourite on Tyneside, making 107 appearances between 2016 and 2021 and scoring eight goals.
He moved to Newcastle from Chelsea on a permanent deal for £6.2m in 2017.
The club tweeted: “We are profoundly saddened to learn that Christian Atsu has tragically lost his life in Turkey’s devastating earthquakes.
“A talented player and a special person, he will always be fondly remembered by our players, staff and supporters. Rest in peace, Christian.”
Former Chelsea club captain John Terry tweeted: “RIP my friend.”
Chelsea FC wrote: “It is with enormous sadness that Chelsea Football Club receives the news that Christian Atsu is confirmed as one of the many victims of the dreadful earthquake in Turkey and Syria.
“Chelsea sends our heartfelt condolences to Christian’s family and friends and to all those affected by the earthquake tragedy.”
Atsu’s Turkey-based agent, Murat Uzunmehmet, told reporters that Atsu player was found beneath the rubble of his home in southern Turkey.
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He said: “Atsu’s lifeless body was found under the rubble. Currently, more items are still being taken out. His phone was also found.”
Atsu is survived by wife Marie-Claire Rupio Atsu and their three children.
His elder brother and twin sister were present at the recovery of his body. The footballer will now be flown home to be buried in his home country.
It came as a child was among three people rescued alive from the rubble in southern Turkey this morning, more than 296 hours after the earthquake, state news agency Anadolu reported.
Atsu was scheduled to leave Turkey just hours before the earthquake, having agreed to join a new club in France.
But he chose to stay after scoring a stoppage-time winner in Hatayspor’s Super Lig match against Kasimpasa on the day of the earthquake.
Hatayspor manager Fatih Ilek told Turkish radio yesterday: “Atsu wanted to play more and asked for permission from his coach to leave if he wasn’t going to get it.
“He bought a ticket to fly to Istanbul, and from there to France. He was going to look for a club to get more playing time.”
Atsu moved to Turkey last September, signing for the Antakya side on a one-year contract. He lived in the southern Turkish city with Hatayspor’s sporting director Taner Savut, who is still missing.
The club tweeted: “We will not forget you, Atsu. Peace be upon you, beautiful person. There are no words to describe our sadness. Rest in peace.”
We are profoundly saddened to learn that Christian Atsu has tragically lost his life in Turkey's devastating earthquakes.
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 (@NUFC) February 18, 2023
Atsu, who joined Hatayspor last year, had previously played for several European teams including Everton, Chelsea, and Newcastle United in the English Premier League, as well as Portuguese club Porto.
He was a member of Porto’s 2013 Portuguese championship squad.
Atsu also scored 10 goals in 60 caps for Ghana.
More than 39,000 people have been killed by the two strong earthquakes that jolted southern Türkiye, according to official figures.
The 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude quakes were centered in Kahramanmaras province and struck 10 other provinces — Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Hatay, Gaziantep, Malatya, Kilis, Osmaniye, Elazig and Sanliurfa. More than 13 million people have been affected by the devastating quakes.
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