On Saturday, February 18th, Christian Atsu, Ghanaian footballer who played for Turkey’s Hatayspor, was found dead underneath the rubble of the apartment building he lived in. 31-year-old Atsu had been the subject of a desperate search in the aftermath of the earthquakes that affected Turkey and Syria on February 6th. His agent, Nana Sechere, confirmed the news on Twitter on Saturday.
“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,” Sechere wrote.
“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 joined the Turkish team Hatayspor in September 2022. A day before the earthquake, he had scored a last-minute, match-winning freekick against Kasimpasa. According to Hatayspor’s administrative manager Faith Ilek, Atsu had been scheduled to leave Turkey on a late-night flight on February 5th but canceled his ticket after his match-winning exploits.
“Actually, he was going abroad to visit his family. But when he played well and scored, he canceled his ticket. The earthquake happened on his happiest day. He had a flight at 11 pm. Canceled the ticket. There was an earthquake at 4 am. Absolutely a tragedy,” Ilek said in an interview.
Since Atsu went missing, there were conflicting reports on whether he had been found or not. On February 7, his club announced that he had been found alive, only to see those claims withdrawn after two days.
Atsu represented Ghana, his home country, 65 times helping his national team to the final of the African Cup of Nations in 2015. He performed exceptionally at the tournament, winning the accolade of Player of the Tournament.
Atsu spent the majority of his career in England, playing for teams such as Chelsea, Newcastle, Everton, and Bournemouth. He also spent a part of his career playing in Portugal and Saudi Arabia.
Christian Atsu, The Philanthropist
While he was renowned for being a soccer player, he had always taken time to be philanthropic. He was an Ambassador for Arms Around the Child, a children-focused charity based in South Africa, Ghana, and India.
“He was always grounded and he had a nice word for everybody. He was a lovely person to deal with and was one heck of a player too. He had a very good left foot and played 65 times for Ghana, scoring more than 10 goals. He paid his dues to the national team,” said Ghana sports broadcaster Michael Oti Adjei.