Dubai: Former Everton, Chelsea and Newcastle star Christian Atsu has been found dead under the rubble of his home two weeks after the Turkey earthquake.
The 31-year-old Ghana international had been missing since the 6 February quake that caused the collapse of his apartment in Antakya, Hatay.
In the aftermath of the quake his current club Hatayspor said Atsu had been rescued but today his agent Nana Sechere confirmed the winger had been found dead.
“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. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their prayers and support,” he tweeted.
“There are no words to describe our sadness,” tweeted his Turkish top-flight club Hatayspor. “We will not forget you, Atsu. Peace be upon you, beautiful person.”
Atsu had been scheduled to fly out of southern Turkey hours before the quake, but Hatayspor’s manager said the Ghanaian opted to stay with the club after scoring the game-winning goal in a Super Lig match on February 5.
He joined Chelsea in 2013, after breaking through at Portuguese giants Porto, but spent five years at Stamford Bridge without making an appearance for the first team. He spent temporary spells away from the club with Everton, Vitesse Arnhem, Bournemouth and Malaga.
He made a permanent move to Newcastle in 2016 and was part of their promotion winning campaign in the 2016-17 season under Rafa Benitez.
“We are profoundly saddened to learn that Christian Atsu has tragically lost his life in Turkey’s devastating earthquakes,” Newcastle said in a tweet. “A talented player and a special person, he will always be fondly remembered by our players, staff and supporters.”
He made 121 appearances in total over five years for the club, before moving to Saudi Arabia to play for Al-Raed. He joined Hatayspor in September 2022.
Everton said they were “deeply saddened” by the news, while Chelsea said they were “devastated”.
Atsu won 65 caps for Ghana and helped his country reach the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations final where they lost to Ivory Coast on penalties. He was later named player of the tournament.
The earthquake and aftershocks in southern Turkey and northern Syria are known to have killed more than 40,000 people.
Tremors from the deadly quake - which lasted about a minute and could be Turkey’s largest ever - were felt as far away as Egypt, Lebanon and the island of Cyprus.