Christian Atsu: Tributes paid to Ghanaian footballer found dead under rubble of Turkey earthquake

(CNN) The body of Ghanaian soccer star Christian Atsu was found under rubble on Saturday, his agent said, nearly two weeks after an earthquake devastated Turkey and Syria.

“It is with the heaviest heart that I have to announce to all supporters that, unfortunately, Christian Atsu’s body was found this morning,” said Atsu’s agent, Nana Sechere. tweeted. “My deepest condolences go out to his family and loved ones.”

The Hatayspor player’s body was found under the rubble of his apartment, according to the Ghanaian Foreign Ministry, in the presence of Atsu’s brother and sister, the ministry said in a statement.

In another statement, the ministry said Atsu’s body was due to arrive in Accra on Sunday.

Atsu disappeared after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria on February 6 killed at least 45,513 people, including at least 39,672 in Turkey, according to the latest figure given by the Turkish Minister of Health. Interior Suleyman Soylu.

Immediately after, there was confusion as reports from Turkey originally stated that Atsu had been located and was in a hospital, but on February 8, Sechere tweeted that it had been revealed, contrary to the reports, that Atsu was still missing.

Before joining Hatayspor last year, Atsu played in the Saudi Pro League for Al Raed FC. He had also represented several English clubs, including Chelsea, Everton, Bournemouth and Newcastle.

Newcastle United players and Liverpool players hold a minute of applause in memory of Christian Atsu.

English football paid tribute on Saturday to Atsu’s former clubs who clapped a minute before their games. The players also wore black armbands.

Atsu played for Newcastle United from 2016 to 2021, making 121 appearances and helping them gain promotion to the English Premier League. The club showed a picture of the striker on the big screen before the players, coaching staff and fans cheered. St. James’ Park fans also sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.

“Waking up to this news has been extremely heartbreaking. Our thoughts are with him and his family,” Newcastle manager Eddie Howe said after the game.

Newcastle described Atsu as a “talented player and special person”.

Everton, another former club, said the Twitter that he was “deeply saddened”, while Chelsea said in a statement that the club “sent our deepest condolences to Christian’s family and friends”.

Atsu represented his country 65 times, helping the Black Stars reach the final of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. Although Ghana lost that match to Ivory Coast on penalties, Atsu was named player of the tournament.

The Ghana Football Association has sent its “sincere condolences” to Atsu’s wife and children.

CNN’s Talia Kayali, Philip Wang and Aimee Lewis contributed reporting.

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