Christian Atsu: Who is the charity-focused footballer found in the rubble after Turkey’s earthquake? | OneFootball

Christian Atsu: Who is the charity-focused footballer found in the rubble after Turkey’s earthquake? | OneFootball

Icon: The Independent

The Independent

·7 February 2023

Christian Atsu: Who is the charity-focused footballer found in the rubble after Turkey’s earthquake?

Article image:Christian Atsu: Who is the charity-focused footballer found in the rubble after Turkey’s earthquake?

There is positive news surrounding former Premier League footballer Christian Atsu, who has been “successfully rescued” from under the rubble of a collapsed building and is now recovering in hospital following an earthquake in southern Turkey.

The football world was anxiously awaiting updates on Monday after the 31-year-old former Ghana international was reported missing. Atsu now plays with Turkish Super Lig side Hatayspor and the country’s border region was hit by the 7.8 magnitude quake that brought down thousands of buildings, killing some 5,000 people, in several Turkish and Syrian cities on Monday.

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Atsu was not found after team-mates and members of the club’s technical staff had reportedly been pulled from rubble and his condition and whereabouts were unconfirmed overnight until the Ghanaian Football Association said he had been found alive.

“We’ve received some positive news that Christian Atsu has been successfully rescued from the rubble of the collapsed building and is receiving treatment,” they said. Atsu won 47 international caps with Ghana and represented his country at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.

The forward also played for several teams in England after he was signed by Chelsea in 2013. Although he never played a Premier League match for the Blues, Atsu had loan spells with Everton, Bournemouth and Newcastle, where he played a key role in the club’s promotion to the Premier League in 2017.

Atsu made over 100 appearances for Newcastle after the club chose to sign him on a permanent transfer, but he left England in 2021 to sign for Saudi Arabian side Al-Raed. Atsu joined Turkish team Hatayspor in September and on Sunday scored the winner in a 1-0 victory against Kasimpasa in the Turkish Super Lig.

Atsu’s unlikely journey from Ghana to the Premier League began when he was scouted by Feyenoord’s African football academy. Atsu grew up in poverty in Ada Foah and his father died during his first six months at the academy, which put further financial strain on his family.

Atsu was then spotted by Portuguese club Porto, who offered him a three-day trial. Atsu told Goal of the pressure he felt under to secure his move to Europe, due to his family’s financial struggles back home.

"I had a trial. It wasn’t even a strict contract and my first trial was for three days. I had trials for three days and it wasn’t easy. I thank God that I had this opportunity. I was lucky to have this opportunity,” he said.

"A lot of children in Ghana will not get this chance and waste their talent in Africa, that’s why I am also trying to do my best to make sure that they will not waste their talent and make sure they have the opportunity to work towards their future.

"I was very happy because I could send money to my family and my friends. I was happy to sign my contract. At first I signed a six-month contract, then a one-year contract and then a three-year contract. I was happy because I had some money but that wasn’t the goal when I arrived.

"The goal was to play at the highest level that I could and to work toward that goal. I played in a lot of big stadiums now so I have experience of that. But back then there was more pressure because you don’t know where you are going, your future, your friends, your parents and everyone were calling you. So it was a lot of pressure from outside the field. From your family, from your friends.

"I always enjoyed playing football, although the money was part of it, the priority is to always be a better footballer and also to play at the highest level. This was in my mind every day, when I am on the pitch and to finish training. This was my dream. It was also one of my dreams to play in the Premier League and I am very happy to have achieved it."

While playing for Newcastle Atsu became an ambassador for the children’s charity Arms Around the Child, and he helped raise funds for new schools and community projects in Ghana.

“In my charity life, my dream is to keep doing it for as many years as I can, for it to grow and for many people to know it,” he told Goal.

"I know there are a lot of charities in Ghana but I want this one to be one of the biggest charities in Ghana and for it to inspire other charity work. I would say that I have been through a lot but my response is to want to love humanity.

"To be there for each other, help each other. Helping my brother, sister, friends and anyone who is suffering. This is what I want to do, to show love for humanity."

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