Ex-Prem star Christian Atsu 'was on 9th floor of building' in earthquake before being pulled alive from rubble

7 February 2023, 20:58 | Updated: 8 February 2023, 05:16

An ex-Premier League footballer found alive after being pulled from the rubble of his collapsed apartment block had plunged from the ninth floor of an 11-storey building, his agent has revealed.
An ex-Premier League footballer found alive after being pulled from the rubble of his collapsed apartment block had plunged from the ninth floor of an 11-storey building, his agent has revealed. Picture: Getty / Alamy

By Chris Samuel

An ex-Premier League footballer 'was on the ninth floor of an 11-storey building in Turkey that collapsed' in the devastating earthquake, his agent has revealed.

Christian Atsu played in England for Chelsea, Everton, Bournemouth and Newcastle before moving to Turkish side Hatayspor in September last year.

The 31-year-old scored in the last minute of the club’s match against Kasimpasa on Sunday afternoon and had a late-night game of poker with team mates before returning home to his flat before the earthquake struck.

Mr Atsu’s agent Nana Sechere, who is in London, told The Mirror: “The last I heard from him was at midnight on Sunday. Christian and his team-mates were playing poker until 3:30am at a friend's apartment.

“The journey back to his apartment was around half an hour. He returned at 4am and the earthquake started around 20 minutes later.

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"I didn’t know anything until I received a call from a club official at 5am asking if I’d heard from Christian. He told me Christian’s building had been completely destroyed and that they couldn’t get hold of him.

“I was hoping he was awake and that the earthquake hadn’t happened while he was sleeping. He was in an 11-storey building and he was on the ninth floor.

Christian Atsu during the Newcastle United Training Session at the Newcastle United Training Centre on January 28, 2021.
Christian Atsu during the Newcastle United Training Session at the Newcastle United Training Centre on January 28, 2021. Picture: Getty

"The club officials were trying to help me find him but it was so hard because, understandably, they were trying to find their own friends and families as well.

“There were lots of reports out of England and Ghana that Christian was safe but the first official confirmation I had was from the club at 6am on Tuesday morning.

“They told me that he was in hospital and that he is stable. He doesn’t have his phone and, like all of us, he can’t remember his numbers by heart, so I have to continue to wait to speak to him.”

Mr Sechere revealed that he could have been caught in the quake too were it not for his failure to get a flight in time to see Mr Atsu play.

Photo shows buildings destroyed in the earthquake in Hatay, Turkey on February 7, 2023.
Photo shows buildings destroyed in the earthquake in Hatay, Turkey on February 7, 2023. Picture: Getty

“I was due to fly out on Friday,” he said. “But the flight would have arrived on Sunday after Christian’s game had finished, so I asked for another flight.

"Had I taken that original one, I would have been there too. It’s only God that saved me. There is a God. My wife is so grateful that I didn’t fly in the end.”

Christian Atsu international joined Chelsea in 2013 but was sent out on loan for a number of seasons to clubs including Everton and Bournemouth before making a permanent switch to Newcastle United in 2017.

Reports that he had been caught in the disaster prompted messages from fans and former clubs praying for his safe return.

Over 7,200 people have now died in Turkey and Syria, with the death toll expected to rise.

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