Death has snatched Ghanaian Winger, Christian Atsu away tragically and devastatingly, with the entire nation in grief.
For 12 days, Ghanaians were on tenterhooks hoping for good news after Atsu went missing following a deadly earthquake that claimed over 40,000 lives in Turkey and Syria.
Unfortunately, he was in a pulverised building and was declared dead after his body was recovered on Saturday, February 18
In remembrance of the Ghana winger, here are some interesting facts about Atsu that you may not know.
- He was a ‘Darling Boy’ of Ghanaians from day one
Few people are able to make an impact and wow a country like Ghana, with more than 31 million ‘football coaches’ on the first day of wearing the national team jersey in a crucial football match.
However, Atsu needed just 32 minutes to prove his worth, scoring and assisting a goal on his debut.
Unsurprisingly, “Ghanaian Messi” was on the lips of many, but Atsu quickly brushed it off in humility.
“Messi is my idol. There’s no Ghanaian Messi. There is no other Messi in this world. I can never play even one per cent of what Messi is doing. It’s impossible.”
- He came from a large family, with a twin sibling
Atsu was born in 1992 in Ada Foah, Ghana, and had 10 siblings. Atsu has a twin sister who was at the accident scene in Turkey when his body was retrieved. He is said to have worked at a young age to help his parents support the large family.
- He spent his formative years in different football academies
Before Atsu became a star, he spent years honing his skills at various football academies in Ghana.
He was at the then Feyenoord Football Academy at Gomoa Fetteh in the Central Region, which has now been changed to West African Football Academy at Sogakope.
He later moved to join Cheetah FC, a club based in Kasoa.
- Abedi Pele was his role model
Atsu is known to have held Ghanaian legend Abedi Pele in high esteem.
Unsurprisingly, he developed a sweet left foot, just like the former Black Stars captain. When Abedi retired from football, Atsu was just six years old, but he had the chance to play with Abedi’s sons – Andre Ayew and Jordan Ayew – who were part of the Black Stars set-up.
- He married his German wife in 2012
Christian Atsu formally tied the knot in 2012. He was married to author Marie-Claire Rupio with whom he had two sons and a daughter.
The family is based in Newcastle, where Atsu played for four years before departing to Al-Raed in Saudi Arabia.
Atsu was set to leave Turkey to go and see his family but cancelled his plane ticket on the eve of the earthquake.
This was shortly after his performance which earned Hatayspor a win over Kasimpasa in the Turkish top flight.
- He was Ghana’s standout player at the 2015 AFCON
Christian Atsu single-handedly dominated the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
It was no wonder he swept several accolades that year, finishing as the 2015 AFCON Player of the Tournament and being named in the team of the tournament as well as the goal of the tournament winner.
The icing on the cake would have been Ghana becoming fifth-time AFCON champions had his shot not struck the goal post in the final match against Cote d’Ivoire, which the Black Stars lost in a dramatic 9-8 penalty shootout.
- He scored 10 goals for Ghana
Christian Atsu, who primarily played as a winger, represented Ghana on 65 occasions, scoring 10 goals in total.
He wasn’t just gifted with dribbling skills and speed, but Atsu was also a dead ball specialist, with a corner kick being his first assist in a Black Stars jersey.
His last contribution at his Hatayspor football club in Turkey was also a 97th last-minute free-kick earning his side a 1-0 win.
He scored 23 goals across 207 appearances for 10 football clubs, including Newcastle United.
- He was a true Christian in every sense of the word
Atsu was a devout Christian who shared Bible verses on social media.
He was actively involved in charity, being an ambassador for Arms Around the Child, an organisation supporting disadvantaged children.
He also paid thousands of cedis of bail money to free Ghanaians who had been jailed for petty offences.
One of the beneficiaries of Atsu’s benevolence is a Nigerian comedian and skit maker, Emmanuel Iwueke, popularly known as Craze Clown.
According to Emmanuel, Atsu offered to pay his fees until he graduated from university after his father passed away in 2015.