Professional Ghanaian soccer player found dead in Turkey

Sports writer Maddy Cox discusses the earthquake in Turkey that led to Christian Atsu’s death.

A magnitude 7.8 earthquake occurred on Feb. 6, 2023 near the Turkey and Syria border. This natural disaster greatly affected many southern cities of Turkey, like Antakya. The earthquake caused widespread damage, displacing more than two million people. A large winter storm made its way into Turkey following the earthquake. This widely increased the difficulty for rescuers to search for those who were lost under the ruins of the earthquake. Over 45,000 people, including Ghanaian professional soccer player Christian Atsu, have been declared as dead.

Atsu formerly played as a forward for well known Premier League clubs like Newcastle United and Chelsea. He began playing for the Turkish club Hatayspor in September of 2022, and continued up until the time of his death. During his Hatayspor contract, Atsu played in three games, as well as playing one game in the Turkish Cup. In fact, Atsu scored the winning goal for his team in a game that took place just a single day before the tragic earthquake that led to his demise.

At the time of his death, 31-year-old Christian Atsu was last known to be in his home in Antakya, Turkey — a 12 story apartment building. Atsu was missing after the earthquake, leaving many to fear that he was lost under the earthquake’s destruction. Early initial reports stated he was found alive, but it was later determined that was not the case. His body was finally discovered days later under the rubble of his collapsed building on the morning of Feb. 18, as announced by his agent Nana Sechere on Twitter. He was then pronounced dead to the public by news outlets that same morning.

Christian Atsu was more than just a soccer player. Throughout his 31 years of life, Atsu was a son, a twin brother, a husband and a loving father to three children. Atsu was respected by many as he played an active role in charity work. He was an ambassador for the organization Arms Around the Child, a global charity that aims to create a safer environment for children.

Since his death, Atsu has received praise from many on social media. Tweets expressing condolences and speaking highly of Atsu’s life have been made by the Premier League, Hatayspor, the Ghana Football Association and even Nana Akufo-Addo, the president of Ghana. The day Atsu was pronounced dead, Akufo-Addo shared a photo of Atsu on his official Twitter sharing that he will be “sorely missed.”

Atsu was also honored on Feb. 18 at a Newcastle United game where his wife and children were in attendance. After a minute of silence from Newcastle before their match against Liverpool, Atsu’s family was moved to tears. The Premier League further honored his life at following games with more moments of silence, as well as a minute of applause.

On Feb. 20, two days after he was pronounced dead, Christian Atsu’s body was flown to his hometown of Accra, Ghana, so that he could be laid to peace by his family.

Post Author: Maddy COx