Christian Atsu: The player’s remains has been sent back to his native Ghana two weeks after he died in an earthquake in Turkey.
Members of Ghana’s armed forces took his coffin away after the flight’s late Sunday arrival in Accra.
In southern Turkey, Atsu’s body was discovered on Saturday under his house. He was a member of the Turkish club, Hatayspor.
The winger contributed to Ghana reaching the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations final during his 65 appearances for the country’s national team.
The 31-year-old also made appearances for Everton and Newcastle in the Premier League.
Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia of Ghana said this while speaking at Kotoka Airport in the nation’s capital, Accra: “We hoped against hope, every day that passed, we prayed and prayed. But alas, when he was found, he was no more.”
The late footballer was dearly loved and would be deeply missed, Mr. Bawumia continued, “It is a painful loss, a very painful one.”
He assured that Atsu would receive a “befitting” funeral.
After the deadly 7.8 magnitude earthquake on February 6 triggered the collapse of his flat in Antakya, in severely damaged Hatay province, Atsu had been missing.
The player’s agent announced his death on Twitter on Saturday, contradicting the first claim made by the Hatayspor club that he had been saved with injuries.
It is confirmed that around 44,000 people have died in southern Turkey and northern Syria.
According to Ghana’s foreign ministry, the footballer’s family and Francisca Ashietey-Odunton, Ghana’s ambassador to Turkey, traveled with the footballer’s remains from Turkey.
At 19:25 GMT, the jet touched down in Accra, where it was welcomed by family members, government dignitaries, and Ghana Football Association representatives.
Afterwards, the casket was scheduled to be moved to a military hospital mortuary.
For the deceased player, condolences have been pouring in these past few days.
During the team’s Premier League match against Liverpool on Saturday 18th February, his wife Marie-Claire Rupio and their three children joined Newcastle supporters in observing a minute of silence. For Newcastle, Atsu played from 2016 to 2021.
Before bursting into cheers, away fans screamed “you’ll never walk alone” as Atsu’s face appeared on the big screen.
After scoring for Dutch team Ajax on Sunday, Ghana captain Mohammed Kudus removed his jersey to reveal a white shirt with the words “RIP Atsu” written on it.
According to the organization Arms Around The Child, who has recognized Atsu as an ambassador since 2016, he has been the “primary beneficiary” of a school in Ghana that helps abandoned children, orphans, the chronically ill, and people who have been rescued from trafficking.
They claimed Atsu was “a young boy from poverty in Ghana who followed his dreams and used his talent and platform to help others”.
Christian Atsu Twasam, a Ghanaian professional football player, played as a winger most of the time but could also be used as an attacking midfielder or left back (10 January 1992 – 6 February 2023; declared dead on 18 February).
Atsu started his professional career with Porto and also spent a year on loan at Rio Ave. He was acquired by Chelsea for £3.5 million in 2013, and after that, the club loaned him to Vitesse Arnhem, Everton, AFC Bournemouth, and Málaga.
He signed a permanent switch to Newcastle United in May 2017 after spending the 2016–17 campaign there on loan.
He played for Al Raed in Saudi Arabia after his four-year contract expired then for Hatayspor in Turkey, where he was killed at age 31 in the Turkey-Syria earthquake of 2023.
From 2012 to 2019, Atsu played 65 times for Ghana as a full international, including four appearances at the Africa Cup of Nations and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
At the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, where he also won Player of the Tournament and Goal of the Tournament, he contributed to the team’s second-place result.