World football mourn Christian Atsu
Christian Astu may not have realised how much he was loved and just how much he touched people’s lives during his playing career.
From the moment it was announced he had gone missing in the aftermath of the massive earthquake that hit Turkey and until his lifeless body was pulled out of the rubble last Saturday, it became clear the Ghana international and Hatayspor forward had a special place in the hearts of the football world.
There was an outpouring of emotional tributes by the football world and other leading personalities such as President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his predecessor, John Dramani Mahama. From a minute’s silence observed before last English Premier League and the domestic matches in Ghana last weekend, the late star was eulogised not just for his immense football talents but also as a great personality who used his star power and resources to touch many lives, especially the underprivileged.
Last Saturday, President Akufo-Addo extended his condolences to Atsu’s widow, children, his family and said Ghana football had lost “one of its finest personnel and ambassadors, one who will be difficult to replace”. He will be sorely missed.
Former President Mahama described Atsu as “such a great personality who excelled in all stages of his football career, raising the flag of Ghana high on the world map”.
Jordan Ayew, while warming up for Crystal Palace’s clash with Brentford at the Gtech Community Stadium, wore an inner vest emblazoned with ‘RIP Atsu’ in memory of his former Black Stars teammate.
Ghana’s poster boy, Mohammed Kudus, celebrated his goal for Ajax in their 4-0 victory over Sparta Rotterdam in Amsterdam yesterday, removing his jersey to expose an inner vest with the inscription ‘RIP Atsu’.
Atsu, 31, may have left his Turkish side heartbroken and teary, but his last moments as a footballer was heroic as he scored a brilliant, match-winning free-kick for Hatayspor against their opponents, Kasimpasa, in the battle against relegation.
In a tribute, Atsu’s club called him “a beautiful person”, saying there were “no words to describe our sadness.”
Dutch club, Vitesse Arnhem, also paid tribute to Atsu who played for the club on loan a decade ago. Before their Eredivisie match with FC Volendam at the Kras Stadium last Saturday, players of both teams and the supporters observed a minute’s silence in memory of the late player before kick-off.
Similarly, the captains of his former Portuguese clubs, Rio Ave and FC Porto, held jerseys bearing the player’s name as they observed a minute’s silence in memory of the Ghanaian star before the two sides clashed in the Liga Portugal Bwin match at the Estadio do Dragao last Saturday.
His former club Newcastle United said Atsu would be “fondly remembered” by everyone at the club.
On an emotional afternoon last Saturday, Atsu's wife and children were at St James' Park for Newcastle’s game against Liverpool, with both teams paying tribute to the football star with a minute's silence.