Premier League icon Christian Atsu's tragic death at 31 rocks football world

The football world has been left devastated after the star's body was recovered from the rubble of a deadly earthquake.

Ghana international Christian Atsu's body has been recovered from the rubble of an earthquake in Turkey that killed tens of thousands of people. Pic: Getty
Ghana international Christian Atsu's body has been recovered from the rubble of an earthquake in Turkey that killed tens of thousands of people. Pic: Getty

Tributes to Christian Atsu are pouring in across the football world after confirmation the Premier League icon's body was found amongst the rubble after a deadly earthquake in Turkey. The Ghanaian's former club Newcastle paid an emotional tribute to the 31-year-old at St James' Park as his tearful wife and children joined a minute's applause for the player killed after a deadly earthquake that rocked Turkey and Syria.

Atsu was caught in the 7.8-magnitude quake which left more than 43,000 people dead when in hit on February 6. There were initial reports the 31-year-old had been rescued a day after the quake but Atsu's manager in Turkey, Murat Uzunmehmet, revealed the player's body had been found under the rubble of luxury flats that crumbled in the Turkish southern province of Hatay.

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The Ghana icon's wife Marie-Claire Rupio and his three children were in the stands at St James' Park to join in the tributes to him before Newcastle's Premier League match against Liverpool. With Atsu's face displayed on the video scoreboard and fans chanting "you'll never walk alone", Rupio wiped away tears during a moving minute's applause from the 52,000 capacity crowd as one fan held up a Newcastle shirt bearing the star's name.

Atsu spent four years with Newcastle from 2017 to 2021 and also had spells with Premier League club Chelsea and Porto, where he met his wife in Portugal in 2012. He scored the last of his 33 career goals for Hatayspor in Turkey's Super Lig on February 5, hours before the quake struck.

Newcastle forward Allan Saint-Maximin described his former teammate as a "great person" who always seemed to have a smile on his face and the time to help other people out. He said: I'm not going to lie, I'd never seen a guy like that before when I arrived at Newcastle.

"Even if we played the same position, he was always giving me advice, always. He was a very nice guy, always joking and smiling, when he played or didn't play. He was a great person, so that's why it's sad for me."

Football world remembers Christian Atsu fondly

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe added: "We're treating it as the tragedy that it is, giving him our thoughts and our prayers and to his family as well. We want to support them in this moment."

Atsu’s death was announced on Twitter by his agent Nana Sechere, who said the player’s body has been found 12 days on from the disaster, which has claimed more than 40,000 lives. “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,” said Sechere.

The Ghana international had most recently been playing for Turkish Super Lig side Hatayspor. He made 121 appearances for Newcastle and was part of the team which won promotion back to the Premier League in 2017 before leaving the club four years later.

He also had loan spells at Everton and Bournemouth while contracted to Chelsea. Everton and former Chelsea captain John Terry were among the countless tributes paid to Atsu after the devastating news of his death.

with agencies

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