Premier League clubs yesterday paid tributes to Christian Atsu whose body was found under rubble in Turkey following the massive earthquake which struck Turkey and northern Syria. Newcastle United held a minute’s silence at St James’ Park for the Ghanaian international ahead of the match against Liverpool.
Everton had a period of applause at Goodison Park ahead of its game against Leeds.
Initial reports said Atsu, 31, had been saved from the devastating quake but a day later his Turkish club, Hatayspor, said it was not true.
He had been due to leave Turkey hours before the disaster hit after getting permission to look for a new club in France as he wanted to play more.
But he chose to stay after scoring a stoppage-time winner in Hatayspor’s Super Lig match against Kasimpasa the evening before the earthquake.
His agent Nana Sechere said Atsu had been found under the ruins of his apartment in Antakya, Hatay.
He tweeted: “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.”
Atsu’s Premier League career started with Chelsea, before he moved to Newcastle after a loan spell to Everton.
Then Chelsea captain John Terry tweeted: RIP my friend with a broken heart emoji. Cesc Fabregas and Michy Batshuayi were among other ex-Chelsea players to offer their tributes.
Atsu scored eight goals in his 107 appearances for Newcastle between 2016 and 2021. He was part of the team which won promotion back to the Premier League in 2017.
The club statement said: “A talented player and a special person, he will always be fondly remembered by our players, staff and supporters.”
Everton said yesterday they were “deeply saddened” by the news.
Atsu, whose elder brother and twin sister were there when his body was recovered, is survived by wife Marie-Claire Rupio Atsu and their three kids.
His club tweeted: “We will not forget you, Atsu. Peace be upon you, beautiful person. There are no words to describe our sadness. Rest in peace.”
More than 45,000 people have been killed by the 7.8 magnitude quake and aftershocks in southern Turkey and northern Syria. The death toll is expected to rise further.