Clubs hold minute's silence for ex-Premier League star Christian Atsu, who died in Turkey earthquake, as tributes come in

18 February 2023, 08:12 | Updated: 19 February 2023, 00:14

Clubs paid tribute to Christian Atsu
Clubs paid tribute to Christian Atsu. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

Clubs have held minute's silences for Christian Atsu, the former Premier League footballer who played for Newcastle and Chelsea, among other English clubs, and who died in the recent earthquake in Turkey.

Atsu was confirmed dead on Saturday after his body was pulled from the rubble in the Turkish city of Antakya.

Chelsea and Southampton paid tribute to Atsu with a silence at their game at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon, as did Everton, where he played on loan. Nottingham Forest also paid their own respects.

Several of Atsu's former teammates, including Chelsea legend John Terry, also paid tribute to the Ghanaian international on social media. Michael Essien and Cesc Fabregas also shared their condolences.

Christian Atsu training with Hatayspor
Christian Atsu training with Hatayspor. Picture: Getty

The whereabouts of Atsu, 31, who played 121 times for Newcastle and was on the books at Chelsea without playing, remained unknown for several days after the earthquake.

Tens of thousands of people have died in the earthquake, which struck southern Turkey and northern Syria earlier this month.

Midfielder Atsu was playing for Hatayspor, a Turkish club in the city of Antakya, at the time of his death. Antakya was hit hard by the earthquake, and the building where Atsu had been living had collapsed. Hataysport sporting director Taner Savut, who had been living in the same building, remains unfound.

Chelsea observe a minutes applause in memory of former Premier League player Christian Atsu
Chelsea observe a minute's applause in memory of former Premier League player Christian Atsu. Picture: Getty

Hopes had remained that he may have survived the quake because his body had yet to be found, although two pairs of his shoes were recovered on February 14. Atsu's family had gathered to wait outside his building while rescuers worked.

But his agent Murat Uzunmehmet said: "Atsu's lifeless body was found under the rubble. Currently, more items are still being taken out. His phone was also found."

Agonisingly for his family, Atsu had been due to fly out of Turkey hours before the earthquake, but had cancelled his flight, his agent added.

Ghanaian international Atsu had an excellent career, which he began at Porto in Portugal. His performances attracted the attention of Chelsea in 2013.

Atsu's family waiting outside his building on Friday
Atsu's family waiting outside his building on Friday. Picture: Getty

But he never played for the Blues over a four-year spell, instead making loan moves to Vitesse Arnhem in Belgium, Everton, Bournemouth, Malaga and Newcastle.

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In 2017, he moved to Newcastle permanently, where he had his best spell with 121 appearances.

In 2021, he transferred again to Al-Raed in Saudi Arabia, before making his final move to Hatayspor last year.