Christian Atsu, a former Ghanaian international football player, perished in a devastating earthquake in Turkey; his remains were being transported home on Sunday, according to the Turkish foreign ministry.
On February 6, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that shook Turkey and Syria and killed more than 44,000 people total struck Atsu, age 31.
The former Chelsea and Newcastle player’s body was discovered on Saturday, contrary to initial reports that he had been rescued the day after the earthquake.
His family and Ghana’s ambassador to Turkey will travel with the remains on a Turkish Airlines flight, which is scheduled to land in Accra (Ghana’s capital) at 7:40 p.m. on Sunday, according to the foreign ministry.
Atsu’s elder brother and twin sister were at the scene of the rescue when his body was found, the ministry reported on Saturday.
The player’s widow Marie-Claire Rupio and their three children attended a memorial service at St James’ Park on Saturday before Newcastle’s Premier League game against Liverpool.
On February 5, hours before the earthquake hit, Atsu scored the last of his 33 career goals for Hatayspor in Turkey’s Super Lig.
His Turkish top-flight club paid tribute to him on Twitter by writing, “There are no words to describe our sadness.”
“Atsu, we won’t forget you. May peace be with you, lovely person.
Football has lost one of its finest, according to Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, who played for him in the past for the Black Stars.