Ghanian and former Premier League footballer Christian Atsu has been found dead under the earthquake rubble in Turkey, his agent said. Atsu, 31, who played for both Newcastle United and Chelsea in the Premier League, went missing following the devastating earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria on February 6.
However, his body was finally located Friday after a two-week-long search by Turkish authorities. The news of his death was confirmed by his agent on Saturday. Atsu, who was playing for Super Lig team Hatayspor following earlier stints at Newcastle United and Everton was erroneously reported to have been rushed to the hospital last week.
Atsu's passing has now been confirmed by his agent Nana Sechere, who tweeted: "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. I ask that whilst we make the necessary arrangements, that everyone would please respect the privacy of the family during this very difficult time."
His former club Newcastle also paid tribute to their former player on Twitter. "We are profoundly saddened to learn that Christian Atsu has tragically lost his life in Turkey's devastating earthquakes. A talented player and a special person, he will always be fondly remembered by our players, staff and supporters. Rest in peace, Christian."
After spending a part of his childhood at the Feyenoord academy in Ghana, Atsu joined Porto in 2011 and then signed with Chelsea for a sum of £3.5 million two years later. He was loaned to Vitesse, Bournemouth, Everton, and Málaga and did not play for the Blues' first team.
Atsu had a successful loan season with Newcastle in 2016–17, and the following year, he committed permanently to the team for $8 million. He played with the Magpies for 75 games before moving on to Al-Raed in Saudi Arabia and then Hatayspor.
On February 5, the day before two tragic earthquakes shook southeast Turkey, Atsu entered the game against Kasimpasa as a replacement and scored the game-winning goal.
Gone too Soon
His old club Chelsea paid tribute with a statement that read: "It is with enormous sadness that Chelsea Football Club receives the news that Christian Atsu is confirmed as one of the many victims of the dreadful earthquake in Turkey and Syria.
Everton also paid tribute to Atsu and said: "We are deeply saddened by today's news that Christian Atsu has been found dead following the earthquake in Turkey earlier this month. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, colleagues at Hatayspor and everyone affected by this tragic event that has claimed so many lives."
A Premier League statement read: "We are deeply saddened by the news Christian Atsu lost his life in the devastation of the earthquakes that have hit Turkey and Syria. Our thoughts and condolences are with Christian's family and friends and everyone affected by this tragic event."
Away from football, Atsu served as an ambassador for the children's charity Arms Around the Child, which has offices in Ghana, South Africa, and India and offers homes, protection, support, and education for kids.