Christian Atsu, a Ghanaian soccer player has been returned to his native Ghana on Sunday, following his body being discovered after an earthquake hit Turkey two weeks earlier. He was 31 years old.
Atsu was transported via plane, which landed in Accra where members of Ghana’s armed forces carried away his coffin.
He had been missing since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake first shook Turkey on Feb. 6., ultimately being found on Saturday under the destruction of his apartment building in southern Turkey.
The 31-year-old winger represented Ghana’s national team 65 times and assisted them in reaching the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations final.
He also played for Premier League sides Everton and Newcastle from 2016 to 2021.
More than 44,000 people have tragically died throughout south-eastern Turkey and northern Syria, in what Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has described as "the disaster of the century,” according to NBC News.
Though the death toll continues to rise, Turkish rescue teams have recovered at least 10 people trapped under the debris left behind from the devastating earthquake, including young children.
Many fans, associates, and team member’s of Atsu’s have expressed their condolences for the late soccer player.
On Saturday, Atsu’s family, including his wife and children, and adoring fans held a moment of silence for him in Newcastle, before the match between the Premier League and Liverpool began.
Afterwards, Atsu’s face was displayed on the big screen as fans chanted “you’ll never walk alone” and applauded.
On Sunday, Atsu’s former teammate and Ghana captain Mohammed Kudus paid tribute to him after scoring for Dutch side Ajax. He removed his jersey to reveal a white shirt that displayed “RIP Atsu”.
Atsu was an ambassador for Arms Around the Children charity since 2016, being a significant sponsor of a school in Ghana that assists underprivileged children, including those who are abandoned, orphaned, and chronically ill.
The charity described Atsu as “a young boy from poverty in Ghana who followed his dreams and used his talent and platform to help others”.
The soccer star leaves behind his wife Marie-Claire Rupio and three children.
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