Now there is sad certainty: Christian Atsu is dead. The footballer's body is found under the rubble after the earthquake in Turkey. A tragic mix-up initially gave hope that the 31-year-old would live.
The worst fears in the case of the missing Ghanaian soccer professional Christian Atsu have come true. The 31-year-old, who has been missing since the earthquake disaster in the Turkish-Syrian border region, is dead.
Manager Nana Sechere wrote on Instagram: "It is with a heavy heart that I have to inform everyone that Christian Atsu's body was unfortunately recovered this morning." He continued, "My deepest condolences go out to his family and loved ones. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their prayers and support. While we make the necessary arrangements, I ask everyone to respect the family's privacy during this very difficult time difficult time to respect."
His club Hatayspor wrote: "We will not forget you, Atsu. May your place be in heaven, beautiful person. Our sorrow is indescribable. Rest in peace." As a sign of mourning, the club changed their Twitter logo to black.
It was initially reported that Atsu could be recovered alive, which was confirmed by the Ghana Football Association (GFA), among others. However, this news turned out to be false. "As you can imagine this continues to be a devastating time for his family and we are doing everything we can to locate Christian," Sechere tweeted after the mix-up.
Atsu, a former player for Premier League clubs Chelsea FC and Newcastle United, joined Hatayspor from the Turkish Süper Lig in September. The club comes from the city of Antakya near the Turkish-Syrian border.
The day before the disaster, the 60-time international had scored the winning goal for his team against Kasimpasa to make it 1-0. Hatayspor manager Fatih Ilek told radio station Radyospor on Friday that this goal apparently prevented him from leaving Turkey: "He bought a plane ticket to Istanbul and from there to France. He wanted to look for a club to have more playing time to get." Ilek continued: "It was his destiny. He had a ticket to leave, but because he scored a goal he changed his mind. It's a tragedy, literally."
Since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on Monday last week, the death toll in Turkey and neighboring Syria has risen to over 41,000. According to Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay, rescue work in the region is ongoing.