Newcastle United, Chelsea and Everton have led the football world’s tributes to Christian Atsu after their former player was found dead following the devastating earthquake in southern Turkey.
The 31-year-old man had been missing since the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck in the early 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.
Sechere confirmed the heartbreaking news that Atsu’s body had been found, and the officer offered his condolences to his family.
“It is with the greatest regret that I have to announce to all supporters that Christian Atsu’s body was unfortunately recovered this morning,” Sechere tweeted.
Newcastle, Chelsea and Everton lead Premier League clubs in paying tribute to former player Christian Atsu after he was found dead following devastating earthquake in Turkey
Atsu, 31, was found dead after the devastating earthquake in Turkey more than a week ago.
‘My condolences to his family and loved ones. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their prayers and support.’
Newcastle tweeted in tribute to Atsu, saying he was “a talented player and a special person who will be fondly remembered.”
The tweet read: “We are deeply saddened to learn that Christian Atsu has tragically lost his life in the devastating earthquakes in Turkey.
‘A talented player and a special person, he will always be fondly remembered by our players, staff and supporters.
Rest in peace Christian.
Chelsea soon followed up with their own tweet, saying: “Everyone at Chelsea Football Club is devastated to learn of the tragic passing of our former player, Christian Atsu.” Our thoughts are with his family and friends.’
Atsu’s former club Everton were among the first Premier League teams to pay tribute.
The Toffees tweeted: “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_FK and all those affected by this tragic event that has claimed so many lives.
Hatayspor confirmed that Atsu’s funeral will take place in Ghana, with the Turkish club describing him as a “beautiful person”.
“The funeral of our footballer Christian Atsu who lost his life under the rubble (rubble) is on his way to be sent to his hometown Ghana,” Hatayspor wrote.
‘We will not forget you, Atsu. Peace be with you, beautiful person. There are no words to describe our sadness. REST IN PEACE ATSU.
Christian Atsu’s agent confirmed that the 31-year-old’s body had been recovered on Saturday.
Atsu’s club Hatayspor said they had no words to describe their sadness at the news.
The whereabouts of the Ghanaian international were unknown after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake
Atsu’s relatives waited for news as search and rescue operations were carried out in Turkey.
Atsu enjoyed an extremely impressive career, appearing for Newcastle and Chelsea.
Several fans paid tribute by posting a video of Atsu scoring the winning goal for Hatayspor from a free kick in the club’s last game against Kasımpasa on February 5, just hours before the earthquake.
The Turkish Football Federation said it was deeply saddened by the confirmed news.
“It is with deep sadness that we learned that Christian Atsu, the Atakaş Hatayspor football player, lost his life in the earthquake disaster that shocked our country,” the statement read.
PROFILE OF CHRISTIAN ATSU
Born: January 10, 1992, Ada Foah, Ghana
Rio Ave (loan): 2011-2012
Vitesse (loan): 2013-14
Everton (loan): 2014-15
Bournemouth (loan): 2015-16
Malaga (on loan): 2016
Newcastle (loan): 2016-17
Newcastle (permanent): 2017-2021
Al Raed: 2021-22
‘Our condolences to Christian Atsu’s family, relatives, fans and Hatayspor community.’
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.
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 Hatayspor’s 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.
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 signing for Chelsea.
He spent five years at Stamford Bridge but never actually made a first-team appearance, having spent stints away from the club with Vitesse Arnhem, Everton, Bournemouth, Malaga and Newcastle, before moving to the Magpies for good in 2016.
He was promoted to the Premier League with the club during the 2016-17 season under Rafa Benítez and made 121 total appearances over five years.
On leaving Newcastle, he moved to Saudi Arabia to play for Al-Raed, before joining Hatayspor last September.
Atsu had been in Turkey since joining Hatayspor in September last year after leaving Al-Raed.
The 31-year-old moved to Portugal at 17 to pursue his dream after growing up in Ghana.
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.