Christian Atsu had been missing since the earthquakes on February 6
Christian Atsu during the Newcastle United training session at the Newcastle United Training Centre on January 30, 2020 © Getty Images / Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images
The remains of ex-Newcastle and Chelsea footballer Christian Atsu have been identified in the rubble of a block of high-rise apartments in the Turkish province of Hatay, according to his agent. Atsu had been missing since massive earthquakes rocked Türkiye and Syria on February 6, killing more than 40,000 people.
Atsu, 31, who joined Premier League giants Chelsea in 2013 during Roman Abramovich’s ownership of the club, was confirmed as deceased by his agent on Saturday.
“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,” Nana Sechere tweeted.
“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.”
The funeral of our football player Christian Atsu, who lost his life under the rubble ( debris), is on his way to be sent to his hometown, Ghana. We will not forget you, Atsu. Peace be upon you, beautiful person. There are no words to describe our sadness.REST in PEACE ATSU
— Hatayspor (@Hatayspor_FK) February 18, 2023
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. 🖤🤍
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) February 18, 2023
Everyone at Chelsea Football Club is devastated to learn of the tragic passing of our former player, Christian Atsu. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 18, 2023
The footballer was initially understood to have been rescued a day after the earthquakes, but those reports turned out to be false. His body was found on Saturday at Ronesans Residence, a 249-apartment block in the city of Antakya in southern Türkiye. The building had supposedly been “earthquake-proof.”
The developer of the residential complex, Mehmet Yasar Coskun, was arrested at Istanbul Airport as he attempted to board a flight to Montenegro last Friday, according to the Anadolu news agency.
“There are no words to describe our sadness,” tweeted Turkish club Hatayspor, which Atsu joined last September. “We will not forget you, Atsu. Peace be upon you, beautiful person.”
Newcastle United, a club for which Atsu played 121 times, wrote on social media that it was “profoundly saddened” by the news of his death, while Chelsea said it was “devastated.”
Atsu, who played 65 times for Ghana and was named the player of the tournament at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, scored his first goal for Hatayspor in a Super Lig match on the eve of the earthquakes on February 5.