Ghanaian soccer player Christian Atsu found dead in Turkey earthquake rubble

NEWCASTLE upon TYNE, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28: Christian Atsu during training
Christian Atsu, who went missing after a massive earthquake hit Turkey and Syria early last week, has been found dead in the rubble. (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

Christian Atsu, a Ghanaian football star who played in the World Cup and in the English Premier League, was found dead under the rubble after the earthquake in Turkey. He was 31 years old.

Search parties have recovered Atsu’s body from the ruins of the building he lived in in Antakya, the city in Hatay province that was hit hardest by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that killed at least 45,000 people in Turkey and Syria.

Atsu played for Hatayspor, a Turkish Super League club based in the southeastern city. On Sunday, February 5, just a few hours before the earthquake, he scored the winning goal against Kasimpasi.

He moved to Turkey after stints with nine different clubs in five other countries. He broke through at Porto in Portugal as a teenager and then signed for Chelsea in England. He later spent five seasons with Newcastle United from 2016 to 2021.

The news of his death, confirmed by his representatives, caused sadness in these clubs, among his former teammates and throughout the world of football.

“There are no words to describe our sadness,” Hatayspor said. club’s first tweet since the earthquake.

Hatayspor said Atsu’s body was being taken back to his hometown in Ghana.

Atsu was born in the coastal town of Ada Foa, east of Accra. As a child, he traveled around the country to several football academies before moving to Europe. He then made his debut for the Ghana senior national team at the age of 20.

At 22, he represented his country at the 2014 World Cup. Just six months later, he starred in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations and was named Player of the Tournament. In total, he played over 60 times for Ghana.

“We would like to express our deepest condolences to his wife and children, family, loved ones and the football community,” the country’s football federation said in a statement.

Nana Akufo-Addo, the country’s president, added in a statement: “Ghana football has lost one of its best employees and ambassadors who will be hard to replace. He will be greatly missed.”

Shortly after the earthquake, amid reports that Atsu was missing, Hatayspor announced that he had been found alive. But the club soon corrected its statement and stated that the information received was erroneous. Atsu and the sports director of the club, Taner Savut, have been missing for more than a week, and Savut has still not been found.

Both lived in the 12-story Ronesans Rezidans building, which became subject of local rage due to its poor quality construction. It was advertised as “a piece of paradise” and “earthquake proof”. But on February 6, it collapsed, one of about 84,700 buildings that collapsed or were damaged during the earthquake.

Its collapse left loved ones of many residents fearing the worst. Meanwhile, a building contractor was reportedly detained at Istanbul airport last week, apparently trying to flee the country.

Members of the Atsu family traveled to Turkey trying to find him while search parties cleared the rubble. His body and some belongings were finally discovered this week.

“My deepest condolences to his family and loved ones,” his agent tweeted.

Hatayspor also indicated in a tweet that other staff members of the club – Huseyn Danahalilogluyouth goalkeeping coach; Susan Barber, kitchen worker; And Onur Akdenizfirst team member – died in the earthquake, the death toll continues to grow.


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