Body of ex-Premier League star Christian Atsu arrives in Ghana after he was killed in Turkey earthquake

  • The body of former Premier League star Christian Atsu has returned to Ghana
  • Ex-Newcastle midfielder’s body was found in Turkey 12 days after earthquake 

Tributes have flooded in for footballer Christian Atsu as his body was repatriated to Ghana ten days after he was killed in the devastating Turkish earthquake.

Former Newcastle midfielder Atsu’s death was announced on Saturday by his agent Nana Sechere, who said the player’s body was found 12 days after the disaster hit Turkey and Syria – claiming more than 44,000 lives.

Ghana international Atsu, who was 31 and counted Chelsea, Everton and Porto among his former clubs, was playing for Turkish Super Lig side Hatayspor at the time of his death.

Atsu had been an ambassador for global children’s charity Arms Around The Child (AATC) since 2016, was the main benefactor of a new school that is nearing completion in Senya Beraku in Ghana.

He visited children and the project there on several occasions.

Christian Atsu was described ‘as a wonderful man’ whose ‘legacy will live on’ by a children’s charity he represented as his body was repatriated to Ghana today

The coffin containing the body of Christian Atsu arrive sat the Kotoka International Airport in Ghana today

A spokesperson for AATC said: ‘It is with immense pain and disbelief that we have to write these words. We have held onto the hope that Christian would survive and be found in the rubble of the tragic earthquake to hit Turkey and Syria.

‘Christian Atsu was a truly unique and wonderful man, and his legacy will live on through the many hundreds if not thousands of lives he has helped. 

‘He will live in our memories as one of the kindest, most talented, humble people to enter this world.

‘A young boy from poverty in Ghana who followed his dreams had an incredibly successful footballing career and used his talent and platform to help others.

‘Arms Around The Child were fortunate to have known Christian and will treasure his support for the children we look after, especially the children in Senya Beraku where Christian was building a school in the local community. Christian believed in giving children a brighter future and the opportunity to succeed.

‘He never forgot his own roots and didn’t want to see any more children abused, imprisoned, affected by HIV, trafficked or sold. 

‘He was determined to use his prominence as a footballer to prevent this. 

‘He had also been supporting The Crime Check Foundation in Ghana with their work paying fines for petty crimes which had resulted in incarceration, and helping people reintegrate into society and get back on their feet.

Christian Atsu’s family members wait at the airport for the arrival of his coffin

Pallbearers carried Atsu’s coffin as it was escorted off the plane and on to his final resting place

‘Whenever Christian visited Senya, the children and the community were always so happy to see him. They would welcome him like a hero, but also like a father, uncle or brother as everyone felt such a close affection for him.

‘He greeted everyone with smiles and hugs, making each individual, child and adult, feel important and that they could dream and succeed in life. Christian loved the children and would always throw his shoes off to play barefoot football with them, something he loved to do whenever he visited.

‘The children looked up to him, he showed them that they can have dreams for a better future and that through education, dreams can be achieved. 

‘This is why Christian was so passionate about building a school, he believed in education for all, especially as a way to solve problems and give kids a brighter future.’

Seth Asiedu, director of one of the homes Atsu supported in Senya Beraku, said: ‘Our hearts are broken by the news regarding our beloved bro, Christian Atsu.

‘We always felt the impact of his presence and were soaked with joy any time he visited us. 

‘The happiness he brought to so many will leave a painful void, but we will always remember his kind heart and his beaming, infectious and joyful smile. Thank you Christian, we love you.’

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