Christian Atsu the former Chelsea and Newcastle star has been confirmed dead by his agent following the devastating earthquake in southern Turkey and northern Syria last week.
The 31-year-old, who played for Super Lig side Hatayspor, was in his ninth-floor apartment when two devastating earthquakes struck, killing at least 45,000 people across Turkey and Syria.
Shortly afterwards, there had been reports claiming Atsu had been rescued from the rubble, though it soon emerged that was not the case.
The search for the Atsu had continued, with a pair of his shoes found several days ago, and now his agent, Nana Sechere, has confirmed that his body has been recovered.
A statement from Sechere on Saturday morning read:
‘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.’
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Another of Atsu’s representatives, Murat Uzunmehmet, also confirmed the sad news, saying:
‘Atsu’s lifeless body was found under the rubble. Currently, more items are still being taken out. His phone was also found.’
Last Tuesday, Sechere had provided a detailed update on the search for Atsu, saying:
‘I am at the quake site in Hatay with Christian’s family. The scenes are unimaginable and our hearts are broken for all the people affected.
During my time here we have been able to locate Christian Atsu’s exact room location, and we have found two pairs of his shoes.
‘Yesterday we received confirmation that thermal imagery was showing signs of up to five lives, however,
I am told that the only real confirmation of life is through sight, smell and sound, and unfortunately we were not able [to] locate Christian.
‘This is a difficult situation and we are extremely grateful to all the Turkish and foreign rescue teams, local civilians and volunteers for their efforts and response in rescuing survivors.
However, we urgently need more resources, including a translator, on the ground.
‘Things are moving incredibly slow and as a result of that many rescues are being delayed, and lives are being lost due to the lack of resources available to the workers.
It is unfortunate that the club is not on the ground with us, side by side, in the search for Christian.
‘Their position and influence, accompanied with their local knowledge would be extremely helpful. We implore the president of the club and mayor of Hatay, Lutfu Savas, to provide additional resources to speed up the rescue efforts as a priority.’
Atsu made 65 appearances for the Ghana national team He was awarded Player of the Tournament at the 2015 AFCON when the Black Stars came runners-up.
Also spent four seasons at Chelsea, though never made a Premier League appearance for the club after being sent out on a string of loans.
He found a home at Newcastle United, where he made 121 appearances for the Magpies in all competitions, before departing for Saudi side Al-Raed in 2021 and then moving to Hatayspor a year later.
He had been out celebrating after scoring in the final minute of Hatayspor’s match against Kasimpasa, and returned home when the earthquake struck.
‘The last I heard from him was at midnight on Sunday.
Christian and his team-mates were playing poker until 3.30am at a friend’s apartment, but he returned to his flat at 4.00am,’ Sechere told the Mirror.
‘I didn’t know anything until I received a call from a club official at 5am asking if I’d heard from Christian.
He told me Christian’s building had been completely destroyed and that they couldn’t get hold of him.
‘I was hoping he was awake and that the earthquake hadn’t happened while he was sleeping.
He was in an 11-storey building and he was on the ninth floor. The club officials were trying to help me find him but it was so hard because, understandably, they were trying to find their own friends and families as well.’
Atsu, who moved to Portugal at the age of 17 to pursue his dream of being a footballer,
was a devout Christian and married his wife Marie-Claire Rupio Atsu in 2012.
They had three children together – two sons and a daughter.