He was kind, selfless and benevolent. The orphaned and disadvantaged children he supported, financially and morally, inspired to aspire for greatness all describe him a ‘great, wonderful man.’
And he was a wonderful and talented football player. Upon his untimely tragic death, the children did not only mourn him he supported, or those who loved his footballing skills; he was also mourned and celebrated by thousands of people worldwide. His name will forever be etched in the minds of many, and his legacy will stay forever.
Christian Atsu, Ghana’s Black Stars twinkling star player and former enterprising Newcastle midfielder, whose death was announced by his football agent Nana Sechere after 12 days of missing after the devastating earthquake, which is said to have claimed 44,000 lives will forever be celebrated and honours because of the way he handled himself towards humanity.
Atsu, who met his fate at just 31 years and counted Chelsea, Everton, Porto, the Magpies, and Newcastle United among some of his former clubs, had been playing for Turkish Super League side Hayayspor and he was a larger-than-life character off the field as he was giving hope to the hopeless back in his country where he grew up in poverty.
He was beyond a football player. He was more. A philanthropist and an ambassador for the global children’s charity, Arms Around the Child since 2016 and he regularly visited the children who were in a new school that he was building and was near completion at the time of his demise in Senya Beraku in Ghana.
It is against this background – Atsu’s commitment and dedication to supporting mankind – a UK-based African Diaspora Football Community Organisation (ADFCO) are putting together a charity social football bonanza to be staged in Nottingham featuring different African countries to honour and celebrate Christian Atsu’s life the way he lived his life, football and charity.
ADFCO Chief Executive Officer Balewa Mwalwanda in an exclusive interview says his organisation sees it a perfect fit to celebrate one of Africa’s football royalty – and a man who did a lot of good things to the hopeless children, the disadvantaged, and the vulnerable people not only in his home country, Ghana – but also across the globe as a global ambassador for an international children’s charity.
Said Mwalwanda: “It is going to be the biggest all-African football bonanza in the UK with over 30 teams participating from across the UK and we have engaged the elders from Ghana domiciled in the UK for the guidance and the support is great.
“Atsu was not only a great football player, but he was also a great human being. He was humble and never at at point did he brag about helping people like many others do for publicity. He was an exceptionally big-hearted man, and we will honour him accordingly.”
Mwalwanda says the Atsu Football Tourney, which also includes the youth teams is scheduled for July and August and will be played at the Forest Grounds in Forestfields in Hyson Green.
“UK Ghana national team select Kwesi Esiedu says: “We are so grateful for this great honour for Christian Atsu. What a wonderful person he was. We thank ADFCO for this initiative and we will ensure that everything Ghana will be present at the games.”
Zachary Shumba representing the Zimbabwe UK national team said they will be participating in the tournament with four teams from Nottingham, London, Leeds, and Manchester.
“We are ready for the tournament, and we believe that this would be a befitting tribute to the Ghana international who gave everything to football and charity, said Shumba.
Some countries that have confirmed participation, according to Mwalwanda, includes among many others, DR Congo, Angola, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Gambia, Somalia, Cameroon, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Egypt and Guinea.
Team Malawi Select in-charge and national team midfielder Nottingham-based Victor Maliro says: “Atsu was a gifted clinical midfielder who was a dedicated footballer.
“It is a great honour to be part of this great initiative to honour such a great African son of the soil. His story is impeccable.”
“His dedication to the game was incredible and above all else, his love for mankind was unequivocally excellent and beautiful,” adds the former lanky international footballer.
A spokesperson for AATC said: “Christian Atsu was a truly unique and wonderful man, and his legacy will live on through the many hundreds if not thousands of lives he has helped.
“He will live in our memories as one of the kindest, most talented, humble people to enter this world.”
“A young boy from poverty in Ghana who followed his dreams had an incredibly successful footballing career and used his talent and platform to help others.
Atsu never forgot his own roots and didn’t want to see any more children abused, imprisoned, affected by HIV, trafficked, or sold.
He, therefore, was determined to use his prominence as a footballer to prevent this.
The former Newcastle united midfielder has had also been supporting The Crime Check Foundation in Ghana with their work paying fines for petty crimes, which had resulted in incarceration, and helping people reintegrate into society and get back on their feet.
Many children in Ghana looked up to him as he showed them that they can have dreams for a better future and that through education, dreams can be achieved.
This is why Christian was so passionate about building a school, he believed in education for all, especially to solve problems and give kids a brighter future.
Seth Asiedu, director of one of the homes Atsu supported in Senya Beraku, said soon after the player’s death: “We always felt the impact of his presence and were soaked with joy any time he visited us.
“The happiness he brought to so many will leave a painful void, but we will always remember his kind heart and his beaming, infectious and joyful smile. Thank you, Christian, we love you.”
On Saturday, March 4th, 2023, a throng of people with solemn and sombre faces gathered in Ghana’s capital, Accra for a week-long observation and a traditional remembrance ceremony in honour of the fallen hero.
Those who couldn’t attend, paid tribute to the player from abroad.
That day marked two weeks after news broke of the footballer’s demise in Turkey.
Atsu’s funeral was given a full State Funeral rites with the Ghana government taking over every cost.
Ghana’s Sports and Youth Minister Mustapha Hamid said: “We had to give because of the contribution of Christian Atsu to the development of Ghana football and at the same time with the way and manner Christian Atsu passed on is something that is devastating to everyone, and this is the only time that we all come together as a country to give our brother and son. a befitting burial.”
The late Christian Atsu’s final funeral rites and burial were conducted on March 17th 2023.
While many remember Atsu for his great performances in the English Premier League with Chelsea, Everton and Newcastle United, many Ghanaians and other African countries Black will forever remember the Ghana International midfield dynamo for his massive contribution to the Ghana national team popularly known as the Black Stars.
“I remember him in 2015, at the African Cup of Nations in Gabon. In that tournament, Atsu won the best player of the tournament, and he was so instrumental to Ghana’s participation,” Abraham Nkansah, the president of Die Hard Supporters Union (Supporters of the Black Stars), said.
On 6th February 2023, Atsu went missing in the immediate aftermath of the 2023 Turkey–Syria earthquake; he was feared to be among those trapped under the rubble of Hatayspor’s headquarters in Antakya following the quake.
Atsu had been scheduled to fly out of southern Turkey hours before the quake, but Hatayspor’s manager said he stayed with the club after scoring the winning goal in a 5 February match.
On 7th February, club vice-president Mustafa Özat said Atsu had been rescued and was recovering in hospital, while on 8 February manager, Volkan Demirel said that Atsu and sporting director Taner Savut were still missing.
On Valentine’s Day, the 14th February, 2023 Atsu’s agent confirmed two pairs of his shoes had been found, but that Atsu himself had still not been found.
Four days later, on 18 February, confirmation was received by his agent that his body was recovered from the rubble of the building he was residing in.
News outlets reported his death at approximately 06: 00 am. GMT.
Atsu’s former club Newcastle United paid tribute to him at their game against Liverpool on 18 February and prior to the start of the game, a minute of applause was held before the start of the game.
Atsu’s widow and their children were in attendance.
The tribute was also made at other English Premier League games that occurred over the weekend.
Atsu’s body may have been interred six inches deep in the grave in the west African of Ghana, but his legacy will live forever, and he will forever be remembered as one the kindest footballers of all times.
After all, they say, good deeds men do will follow them to the grave.