Remembering Christian Atsu

Ghanaian footballer Christian Atsu died in the earthquake in Southern Turkey. At first it was thought he had survived and been taken to hospital, but 12 days after the earthquake his body was found under the rubble of his home in Antakya, Hatay. The day before the earthquake 31-year-old Christian scored the winning goal for top-flight Turkish club Hatayspor. He played 65 times for Ghana and was named as the best player at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

Christian played in the Premier League for Bournemouth, Chelsea, and Newcastle. Eddie Howe, who was his manager at Bournemouth, said “Christian was an incredible, likeable guy, a really, really good person, and an outstanding player.” Rapha Benitez, his former manager at Newcastle, said, “He was a special person and a great player. He always had a smile.” Christian leaves his wife and 3 young children.

Christian knew Jesus Christ as his Saviour and Lord. He could say with the Apostle Paul, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” He grew up in a Christian family in Ghana. He said, “I knew Jesus through my parents when I was growing up. I think they did a great job because Jesus is the best thing that ever happened in my life, and I give thanks to my parents for how they brought me up to know him. My parents wanted me to be a very good Christian because they knew the importance of it.”

Christian said, “God is my inspiration, sport is my passion and success is my motivation. God gives me strength every day to move forward in my football career.” He believed God had given him the talent to be an international footballer and wanted to be the best player he could be so that God would be glorified in and through his life.

When he was asked what advice he would give to other Christian footballers he said, “The only advice that I can give them is that we all want to be successful in football, but we should not forget that it is only football we are playing. We have God in the life we live outside football – we don’t just pray for God to help us play football. We ask God to help us be good people, to be kind and to live a Christian life. It is about how we treat people. What is important is that we know God is always there to worship, even if we fail in our career. We will not be shaken in our belief in God.”

When he played for Ghana, Christian shared a room with fellow Christian Jonathan Mensa. Christian said, “When we go away with the national team, in the night we praise God and when we wake up, we have to thank God.” As he fell asleep on 5 February Christian praised God and the next day woke up in the presence of his Saviour in heaven.

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