Christian Atsu, a former footballer for Ghana, died in Turkey in an earthquake that killed many people. The country’s foreign ministry said that his body was flown back to Ghana on Sunday.
Atsu, age 31, perished in the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria on February 6. The quake caused almost 44,000 deaths throughout both nations.
There were false reports that the former Chelsea and Newcastle player had been saved the day after the earthquake, but his body was found on Saturday.
“The remains will be accompanied by his family and Ghana’s ambassador to Turkey on a Turkish airlines flight and will arrive in Accra (Ghana’s capital) at 7:40 p.m. Sunday,” the foreign ministry said.
The ministry said on Saturday that Atsu’s older brother and twin sister were at the rescue site when his body was found.
On Saturday, his wife, Marie-Claire Rupio, and their three children were at St. James’ Park to pay tribute to him before Newcastle’s Premier League game against Liverpool.
On February 5, hours before the earthquake, Atsu scored the last of his 33 goals for Hatayspor in Turkey’s Super Lig.
As a tribute to him, his Turkish top-flight club tweeted, “There are no words to describe our sadness.
“We will not forget you, Atsu. Peace be upon you, beautiful person.”
He used to play for his country’s team, the Black Stars. Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo said, “football has lost one of its finest ambassadors, one who will be difficult to replace”.