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FutureStarrGhana Soccer Player Christian Atsu Dies in Turkey Earthquake
Christian Atsu, a Ghanaian soccer player who had stints playing for Premier League clubs Chelsea and Newcastle, has tragically passed away from an earthquake in Turkey. According to his Turkish agent, Atsu's body was discovered under the rubble of his apartment building.
Atsu was scheduled to depart southern Turkey hours before Monday's earthquake, but instead chose to remain with his club Hatayspor. At first, the club reported that Atsu had been rescued; then changed its mind and said he remained missing.
Ghana is an African country renowned for its football heritage. The Ghana Football Association (GFA), one of Africa's oldest and first in West Africa, was established in 1957.
Recently, the GFA has suffered some bad news. In 2018, an undercover journalist exposed that members were taking bribes. This scandal was so serious that Kwesi Nyantakyi - then-president of the GFA - was ultimately forced to resign his post.
Ghana soccer fans were incensed when news of the scandal broke. They felt betrayed by an organization known for corruption, and some even questioned Milovan Rajivac's integrity as national team manager and Ghana soccer in general.
The GFA received widespread criticism for its handling of the Ghana women's team. Following this scandal, all coaches for both Ghana's men's and women's national teams were dismissed by the GFA.
Christian Atsu, a Ghanaian soccer player who had stints at Chelsea, Newcastle United and other clubs in the English Premier League, tragically passed away due to a Turkish earthquake. His body was discovered under the rubble of his apartment building in Antakya, Turkey.
He had been missing since the earthquake that struck southeastern Turkey in February. His Turkish club Hatayspor reported that he had stayed in the city and they had attempted to rescue him but were unsuccessful.
On the day of the earthquake, Atsu had been scheduled to depart Turkey but instead chose to remain in his hometown. He lived with Taner Savut, his club's sporting director; initially reports indicated he had been rescued; however, later updates revealed he remained missing.
On Saturday, Hatayspor confirmed that Atsu had passed away due to the earthquake and his body would be returned to Ghana. The club tweeted: "We are deeply saddened by today's tragic news. We extend our sincerest condolences to his family."
Ghana soccer team had been prepping for the AFCON tournament in South Africa this summer, and Atsu was expected to play an integral role. The Ghana Football Association (GFA) hoped he would be fit enough for the competition and help the Black Stars secure their first title on home soil.
Christian Atsu, a former Ghana soccer player who featured in both the World Cup and English Premier League, was tragically found dead under the rubble of his apartment building in Turkey on Saturday morning. His agent confirmed that it was caused by last week's devastating earthquake which has claimed more than 43,000 lives so far.
Atsu, 31, was playing for Turkish Super Lig club Hatayspor when the earthquake hit. He scored the winning goal in their game on February 5 just hours before it occurred and had been scheduled to leave southern Turkey but instead chose to remain with Hatayspor, according to manager Volkan Demirel on Friday (February 17).
On Saturday morning, Christian Atsu's agent Nana Sechere shared the tragic news that his body had been discovered beneath the rubble. Since the earthquake, Atsu had been missing.
According to Reuters, Atsu's body was discovered as workers searched through the remnants of his apartment building in Antakya. His agent Murat Uzunmehmet confirmed that his phone had also been discovered amid the rubble and more items are still being removed.
Atsu's death comes as a devastating blow to his family and teammates at Hatayspor, who have been searching for him ever since the earthquake that devastated Antakya on February 6. So far, more than 41,000 lives have been lost in this massive tremor that hit southern Turkey on February 6.
On social media, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana expressed his condolences and commended Atsu for his humanitarian work in his homeland. Atsu is a major donor to an organization that assists those convicted of minor crimes find employment and rebuild their lives after release from jail. Furthermore, he funded a new breast cancer screening center as well as built an orphanage in Ghana.
The Ghana Football Association will observe a moment of silence for Atsu before each of this weekend's matches, honoring him as one of their country's greatest players. His passing is a profound loss for the sport.
The death toll from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that devastated Turkey and Syria has now exceeded 45,000, with over 264,000 apartments destroyed and many still unaccounted for. This tragedy has also prompted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to promise an investigation into poor building practices in his country that caused buildings to collapse, leading to thousands of deaths while others remain trapped as rescuers race against time to find survivors in freezing temperatures.
On Saturday, February 18th, search teams discovered Atsu's body inside the rubble of his 12-story Ronesans Rezidans building in Antakya - capital of Hatay province) - which had been hardest hit by the earthquake. His manager Murat Uzunmehmet confirmed this development to private news agency DHA.
Atsu, who previously played for English clubs Newcastle and Chelsea, joined Turkish Super Lig side Hatayspor in September and scored the game-winning goal that sealed a victory against Kasimpasa just hours before the earthquake hit. Originally scheduled to leave for his family on Sunday morning, Atsu decided against it after scoring that dramatic goal.
Atsu has been on loan from Chelsea since 2017, but was originally signed to a permanent deal by Newcastle last summer. The Ghanaian had an illustrious career with Vitesse in the Dutch Pro League and was considered a versatile attacking threat who could play both as a midfielder or forward.
Fan favorite and key player for the club, Cesc Fabregas had become an ambassador for Arms Around the Child - a charity founded by his former teammate Cesc Fabregas that helps children living in extreme poverty.
Christian Atsu was born in Ada Foah, a fishing community town on the southeast coast of Ghana where his parents were farmers. He has 10 siblings and developed an interest in soccer from a young age. As part of Ghana's Under-17 national team, he scored one goal during their 1-0 victory against Kenya.
Christian Atsu was a Ghanaian professional soccer player tragically found dead in a Turkish earthquake on February 18th 2019. The 7.8 magnitude quake that devastated Turkey and Syria on February 6th claimed thousands of lives, including Atsu. As part of Ghana's national team and participant at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Atsu had an illustrious career.
Atsu began his professional soccer career at Porto and was loaned out to several clubs, including Chelsea. Ultimately, he joined Newcastle in 2017 after a loan period and won 121 caps for the club, scoring eight goals along the way. Furthermore, Atsu represented his country at the 2014 FIFA World Cup where he made nine appearances and scored six goals.
He was born in Ada Foah, a fishing community on Ghana's southeast coast. As one of 10 children and both his parents farmers, he developed an interest in soccer from an early age; playing barefoot during breaks and after school. Later, his brother invited him to join a junior football club where he quickly blossomed into an impressive athlete.
Atsu, a talented winger, achieved success in soccer through hard work and determination. He eventually earned himself a place on Ghanaian national team and gained notoriety among fans throughout the country.
As a result, the English Premier League offered him a contract. He spent time with Chelsea, Everton and Newcastle before signing with Hatayspor last September.
Nana Sechere, Atsu's agent, reports that the winger was on his way out of southern Turkey before the earthquake occurred. He had scored a winning goal for Hatayspor in their Super Lig match against Al-Raed and was set to fly home on February 5th after arriving safely back home.
On February 6, an earthquake devastating the region of Antakya left Atsu missing. He lived in a 12-story building when the disaster struck.
As the earthquake struck, rescue teams desperately searched for Atsu but were unable to locate him. Worrying that he had succumbed, they believed that Atsu had died from the incident.
The earthquake caused many buildings in the region to collapse, killing tens of thousands. It also damaged roads and other structures, leaving many without shelter or food.