Christian Atsu: Former Newcastle footballer missing in Turkey after earthquake

Ghanian winger, now playing for Super Lig side Hatayspor, reported to be among thousands missing

Christian Atsu made 121 appearances for English side Newcastle United. AFP
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Former Newcastle United player Christian Atsu is reported to be trapped under rubble following the earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria on Monday.

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit south-eastern Turkey and northern Syria during the early hours, followed by a second of 7.5.

The 31-year-old Ghanian, now playing his football with Turkish Super Lig side Hatayspor, was said to be missing – along with director Taner Suvut – after teammates and members of the club’s technical staff had been rescued.

“Taner Savut and Christian Atsu were left under the rubble,” reported Turkish newspaper Star Gazette. “Search and rescue teams are looking for two names.”

Atsu, who scored deep into stoppage time on Saturday to secure a 1-0 win over Kasimpasa, left St James’ Park during the summer of 2021 when he joined Saudi side Al Raed. He only moved to Turkey last September.

He started his professional career playing for Portuguese clubs Rio Ave and Porto before signing for Chelsea in 2013 but was almost immediately sent out on loan to Dutch outfit Vitesse Arnhem.

It was the first of several temporary moves that included Premier side Everton and Spanish club Malaga, before he joined Newcastle, initially on loan, where he helped the Magpies secure promotion back into the top-flight in the 2016-17 season.

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez then signed the winger – who scored nine goals in 69 international appearances for his country – on a permanent basis for around £6 million and ended up making 121 appearances for the club.

A post on the Newcastle’s official Twitter account said: “Praying for some positive news, @ChristianAtsu20.”

Meanwhile, Turkish second division side Yeni Matalyaspor have confirmed that their 28-year-old goalkeeper Ahmet Eyup Turkaslan is also missing.

The second-tier outfit released a statement on Instagram, in which they said: “Our goalkeeper, Ahmet Eyup Turkaslan, is in the building that was damaged and destroyed in the earthquake.

“Search and rescue efforts continue. As of now, there has been no news from him yet.”

Updated: February 07, 2023, 10:23 AM