Hundreds of mourners, including the president of Ghana, pay their last respects to Christian Atsu, killed in the earthquake in Turkey (photos)
Hundreds of mourners gathered in Accra to pay their respects to Ghanaian footballer Christian Atsu, who was killed in the devastating earthquake in Turkey last month.
Family, friends, government officials, the country’s president and former teammates all joined in remembering Atsu outside the State House in Ghana’s capital Accra on Friday, March 17.
The body of the Ghanaian was found 12 days after the disaster that struck Turkey and Syria which claimed more than 50,000 lives.
His body was flown back to Ghana last month in preparation for a funeral in his home country on Friday.
Atsu, who was 31, had played for Newcastle, Everton and Porto. He was playing for Turkish Super Lig side Hatayspor at the time of his death.
Many wore black to mourn Atsu, while others proudly wore the colors of the national flag.
Among those present was Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, who joined mourners for the state funeral.
Marie-Claire Rupio, Atsu’s widow read a moving tribute to her late husband.
“In life I love you darling, in death I will do the same,” she said in tears, the BBC reported. Unable to continue, Rupio delivered his eulogy speech to Atsu’s sister who continued for her. You didn’t leave alone, because a part of me left with you. Your smile, your love that I see in the smiles of our children.’
Players and representatives of Hatayspor, the Turkish club for which Atsu was playing when he was killed, also came to watch the ceremony.
Besides playing football, Atsu had been an ambassador for the global children’s charity Arms Around The Child (AATC) since 2016. He was the main benefactor of a new school nearing completion in Senya Beraku in Ghana. He visited the children and the project several times.
Atsu enjoyed an impressive football career after breaking through with Portuguese giants Porto. He also benefited from a loan at Rio Ave, which allowed him to move to Chelsea.
He spent five years at Stamford Bridge but never made an appearance for the first team. Instead, he spent temporary spells away from the club with Vitesse Arnhem, Everton, Bournemouth, Malaga and Newcastle, before moving north permanently in 2016.
He was promoted to the Premier League with the club in the 2016-17 season under Rafa Benitez and he made 121 appearances in total over five years.