Christian Atsu, Ghana’s national player and former Newcastle midfielder, was found dead under a collapsed building, where he lived in southern Turkey after the deadly earthquake last week, his Turkish agent said on Saturday.
Atsu, 31, was missing since February 6 earthquake after an apartment building collapsed in Hatay.
Murat Uzumehmet, his manager, informed the Turkish news agency, Demiroren News Agency (DHA) on Saturday that Atsu’s body was found buried under the rubble in the Turkish southern province of Hatay.
“Atsu’s lifeless body was found under the rubble. Currently, more items are still being taken out”, Murat Uzunmehmet told reporters in Hatay.
The footballer joined Hatayspor, a Turkish Super Lig club in the southern province of Hatay in September, which is also close to the epicentre of Turkey’s earthquake after he partnered with English Premier League clubs Everton, Chelsea and Newcastle United.
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. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their prayers and support”, the footballer’s Turkish, Nana Sechere, tweeted.
“I ask that whilst we make the necessary arrangements, everyone would please respect the privacy of the family during this very difficult time.”
Atsu had scheduled to fly out of southern Turkey hours before the earthquake, but on Friday Hatayspor’s manager said that Ghanian chose to stay with the club after he scored the winning goal in a Super Lig match on February 5.
Hatayspor tweeted, “We will not forget you, Atsu. Peace be upon you, beautiful person. There are no words to describe our sadness.”
In tribute to the Turkish footballer, Newcastle said, “A talented player and a special person, he will always be fondly remembered by our players, staff and supporters.”
Christian Atsu won 65 caps for Ghana and helped the team qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup National final, however, they lost to Ivory Coast on penalties. In 2019, he got selected to play for Ghana.
In 2013, Atsu joined Chelsea from Porto and had several loan spells at clubs including Vitesse and Bournemouth.
The London club said, “Chelsea sends our heartfelt condolences to Christian’s family and friends and all those affected by the earthquake tragedy.”
Over 45,000 people have died in the massive earthquake that occurred in Turkey and Syria, and the death toll is said to rise as some 264,000 apartments have been destroyed in Turkey and many people are still reported missing in the country’s worst modern disaster.