The body of former Chelsea and Newcastle player Christian Atsu is being flown home to Ghana.
The Ghanaian footballer was found dead on Saturday following the devastating earthquake in southern Turkey and northern Syria.
In a statement released on Sunday morning, Ghana’s foreign ministry said: ‘The Government of Ghana is making arrangements to receive the mortal remains of the late Christian Atsu, a former Black Stars player. The remains will be accompanied by his family and Ghana’s Ambassador to Turkiye on a Turkish airlines flight and will arrive in Accra at 7:40pm, Sunday 19th February 2023.’
The ministry confirmed that Atsu’s brother and sister were present when his body was recovered.
The 31-year-old had been missing since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that took place in the early hours of the morning of February 6, his agent confirmed on Saturday that Atsu’s body had been discovered under the rubble.
Murat Uzunmehmet revealed the devastating news of Atsu’s death – 12 days after the disaster struck, telling reporters on Saturday: ‘Atsu’s lifeless body was found under the rubble. Currently, more items are still being taken out. His phone was also found.’
Another of Atsu’s agents – Nana Sechere – also announced the news.
‘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,’ he said.
‘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.’
Atsu’s club Hatayspor called him ‘a beautiful person’, saying there were ‘no words to describe our sadness’.
‘The funeral of our football player Christian Atsu, who lost his life under the collapse, is on his way to be sent to his hometown Ghana,’ they said on Twitter – as they blacked out their profile picture.
‘We will not forget you, Atsu. Peace be upon you, beautiful person. There are no words to describe our sadness. Rest in peace.
Atsu’s former club Everton were among the first Premier League sides to pay tribute.
‘We are deeply saddened by today’s news that Christian Atsu has been found dead following the earthquake in Turkey earlier this month,’ they said.
‘Our thoughts are with his family, friends, colleagues at Hatayspor, and everyone affected by this tragic event that has claimed so many lives.’
Atsu had been scheduled to fly out of southern Turkey hours before the quake, but Hatayspor’s manager said on Friday the Ghanaian opted to stay with the club after scoring the game-winning goal in a Super Lig match on February 5.