Former Chelsea captain John Terry has led player tributes to Christian Atsu following confirmation of his death in the earthquake in Turkey.
The 31-year-old man had been missing since the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck in the early morning hours of February 6, but one of his officers has confirmed that his body has been discovered under the rubble.
There were initially hopes that the Ghana international had been bailed out, but his club Hatayspor and his agent Nana Sechere revealed the claims were untrue.
Atsu began his Premier League career with Chelsea, before moving on to Newcastle United and Everton.
Terry, who was captaining the Blues at the time, posted ‘RIP my friend’ upon confirmation of the news.
Former Chelsea captain John Terry pays tribute to his friend Christian Atsu on social media
Atsu, 31, was found dead after the devastating earthquake in Turkey more than a week ago.
Another member of the Chelsea team at the time, Michael Essien, posted ‘rest well king’.
Cesc Fabregas and Michy Batshuayi were among other former Chelsea players to offer their tributes.
Batshuayi is currently with Fenerbache in Turkey, and Atsu played for Hatayspor in the country’s top division.
Atsu had joined Chelsea after breaking through at Portuguese giants Porto, after spending time on loan at Rio Ave.
He spent five years at Stamford Bridge but never really made a first-team appearance, having spent seasons away from the club with Vitesse Arnhem, Everton, Bournemouth, Malaga and Newcastle.
Atsu moved permanently to the Magpies in 2016 and was part of their promotion-winning campaign in the 2016-17 season with Rafa Benítez.
Dwight Gayle was among the many Premier League players who offered their tributes to Atsu
Dwight Gayle, who had been a member of the team, paid an emotional tribute on social media, highlighting his contribution off the game.
“My condolences to his family,” Gayle wrote.
“It was a pleasure sharing our time together and you were one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in football, from opening home schools to having a constant smile day in and day out.”
‘The world needs more people like you and you will be truly missed. RIP bro.
Former Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given added: ‘Terrible sad news about Christian Atsu. Thoughts and prayers with his family and friends.’
Newcastle have confirmed that they will hold a minute’s silence for Atsu ahead of their game against Liverpool.
Atsu made 121 total appearances over five years for the club, before moving to Saudi Arabia to play for Al-Raed.
He joined Hatayspor last September.
Atsu also had a decorated international career, earning 65 caps for Ghana and scoring nine goals, while also representing them at the 2014 World Cup.
He was awarded Player of the Tournament at AFCON 2015 when the Black Stars came in second.
After growing up in Ghana, Atsu moved to Portugal to pursue his dream of becoming a professional footballer at the age of 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.
There were hopes that the former winger had been rescued after the disaster unfolded, but Hatayspor and agent Sechere had revealed over the past week that these the claims were false.
Several search and rescue operations were carried out in the rubble of the building where Atsu and Hatayspor sporting director Taner Savut lived, with Savut also missing.
Atsu’s whereabouts were unknown after this month’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake.
Sechere explained on Tuesday how Atsu’s exact ‘room location’ and even two pairs of his shoes had been pinpointed.
More than 42,000 people have died and thousands more have been injured in the quake, while millions have been left homeless.
Tremors from the deadly quake, which lasted about a minute and could be the largest to hit Turkey, were felt as far away as Egypt, Lebanon and the island of Cyprus.
Atsu was scheduled to fly in from southern Turkey hours before the quake hit, but the Hatayspor manager said on Friday the Ghanaian had opted to stay with the club after scoring the game-winning goal in a Super Lig match on 5 April. February.