Ghanaian player Christian Atsu has been found dead under the house where he resided in southern Turkey following last week’s significant earthquake, his Turkish agent reported 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”, his agent Nana Sechere, wrote on Twitter.
“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.”
Atsu has been reported missing since the earthquake on February 6 that led to the collapse of his apartment in Antakya, Hatay. Hatayspor first stated Atsu had been rescued “with injuries” following the quake, but a day later that report was changed.
“There are no words to describe our sadness,” Hatayspor tweeted on Saturday. “We will not forget you, Atsu. Peace be upon you, beautiful person.”
‘A talented player and a special person’
Social media was flooded with condolences for Atsu, including touching remarks from his former clubs.
Atsu moved to Hatayspor in September of last year after spending a season with the Saudi Arabian team Al-Raed. The winger also had spells with English Premier League clubs Everton, Chelsea, and Newcastle United.
Newcastle paid tribute to their former player on Twitter. “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.”
The winger joined Chelsea from Porto in 2013 and spent time on loan at a number of clubs, including Everton and Bournemouth.
“Chelsea sends our heartfelt condolences to Christian’s family and friends and to all those affected by the earthquake tragedy,” the London club said. There was a minute silence by the club before kick-off against Southampton.
In a statement, Everton said: “We are deeply saddened by today’s news that Christian Atsu has been found dead following the earthquake in Turkey earlier this month. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, colleagues at Hatayspor and everyone affected by this tragic event that has claimed so many lives.”
The Premier League also paid their tribute in a statement released on Saturday.
“We are deeply saddened by the news Christian Atsu lost his life in the devastation of the earthquakes that have hit Turkey and Syria,” the statement read. “Our thoughts and condolences are with Christian’s family and friends and everyone affected by this tragic event.”
The 31-year-old attained 65 caps for Ghana and was instrumental in getting his team to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations final, where they fell to Ivory Coast on penalties. Atsu was later named the tournament’s best player.
“We would like to express our deepest condolences to his wife and children, the family, loved ones and the football community,” said the Ghana Football Association.
The earthquakes that slammed Turkey and Syria have already claimed more than 45,000 lives, and the death toll is only anticipated to increase as many people are still missing.