Ghanaian soccer star Christian Atsu found dead after Turkey earthquake 

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  • Published on February 20, 2023
  • Last Updated May 15, 2023
  • In Culture

Atsu was meant to leave Turkey after his team’s win hours earlier, but instead chose to stay.

The body of Ghanaian soccer star Christian Atsu was found under the rubble of his apartment building on Saturday, February 18. He was 31.

Atsu played for English football clubs including Chelsea, Newcastle United and Everton, as well as Saudi football club Al Raed. Prior to his death, Atsu was a winger for Turkish soccer club Hatayspor. On February 5, Atsu made a last-minute score that clinched the win for the team against rival and fellow Turkish Super Lig club Kasimpasa. He was scheduled to fly out of Turkey hours before the earthquake hit the region, but opted to stay and celebrate the team’s victory.

According to CNN, reports about Atsu’s whereabouts and condition had been conflicting. It was reported that his body was found and that he had been taken to the hospital, with his agent Nana Sechere and Hatayspor officials claiming that Atsu was safe. These statements were later detracted after it was determined that the soccer player was still missing. Sechere confirmed Atsu’s death on Twitter 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,” read the tweet. “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.”

In a statement posted to Twitter Sunday, Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Atsu’s body arrived in Accra and “was received by the Family, Government officials, and the Ghana Football Association at a solemn ceremony at the Kotoka International Airport.”

The magnitude of the earthquake on Feb. 6 – which also impacted Syria – was 7.8 and killed more than 46,000 people, reports AlJazeera. More than 84,000 buildings have been severely damaged, collapsed or need to be demolished.

During the Newcastle United and Liverpool game Saturday, players held a minute’s applause in Atsu’s honor. They also wore black armbands. Football clubs and associations have been sharing tributes to Atsu on Twitter. Newcastle spoke to Atsu as a “talented player and a special person,” while Ghana’s Football Association sent their condolences to his family.