Family, fans and beneficiaries of Christian Atsu’s charitable donations remembered the 31-year-old as a philanthropist.
Ghanaian mourners gathered outside the country’s parliament building in Accra on Friday for the state funeral of national football team winger Christian Atsu, who died in a devastating earthquake in southern Turkey last month.
Atsu, 31, was caught at 7.8-magnitude earthquake that shook Turkey and Syria on February 6, killing more than 54,000 people in both countries. He disappeared following the collapse of an apartment building in Hatay.
The player has preliminary reports was pulled alive a day after the earthquake, but these it’s wrong and his corpse was found under the rubble and flew back to Ghana.
Mourners silently filed past Atsu’s casket, which arrived draped in the Ghanaian national flag. He is remembered by family, fans and beneficiaries of his charitable donations as a philanthropist.
“He was more than a football player,” said Fedna Asare, a family friend. “His name will remain in our hearts forever because he helped so many.”
Atsu, 31, spent four seasons in the Chelsea before a permanent move to Newcastle in 2017. He signed in September for Turkish Super Lig side Hatayspor, based in Hatay, near the epicenter.
He won the last of his 60 Ghana national caps in September 2019.
Atsu was scheduled to fly out of southern Turkey hours before the earthquake but the Ghanaian chose to stay at the club after scoring the winning goal in a Super Lig match on February 5. It was the last of his 33 career goals for in Hatayspor.
Atsu’s older brother and twin sister were present at the site when his body was recovered, Ghana’s foreign ministry said.
A tribute was held for Atsu on 18 February, attended by his widow Marie-Claire Rupio and their three children, at St James’ Park before Newcastle’s Premier League match against Liverpool.
“There are no words to describe our sadness,” his Turkish top-flight club tweeted in tribute to him.
“We will never forget you, Atsu. Peace be with you, good man.”
The funeral of our football player, Christian Atsu, who lost his life under the rubble, is on his way to his hometown, Ghana. We will never forget you, Atsu. Peace be with you, good man. There are no words to describe our sadness.
REST in PEACE ATSU
— Hatayspor (@Hatayspor_FK) February 18, 2023
He previously played for his national team, the Black Stars.
The President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo said, “Football has lost one of its best ambassadors, a hard man to replace.”