Hundreds of mourners gathered in Accra to pay their respects to Ghanaian footballer Christian Atsu who was killed in the devastating earthquake in Turkey last month.
Family, friends, government representatives, the nation’s president, and former teammates all joined to remember Atsu outside the State House in Ghana’s capital Accra on Friday, March 17.
The Ghanaian’s body was found 12 days after the disaster hit Turkey and Syria, which claimed more than 50,000 lives.
His body was repatriated to Ghana last month in preparation for the funeral in his home country on Friday.
Atsu, who was 31, had played for Newcastle, Everton, and Porto. He was playing for Turkish Super Lig side Hatayspor at the time of his death.
Many wore black to mourn Atsu, while others proudly wore the colours of the nation’s flag.
Those in attendance included Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, who joined mourners for the state funeral.
Marie-Claire Rupio, Atsu’s widow read an emotional tribute to her late husband.
‘In life I love you darling, in death I’ll do the same,’ she said tearfully, the BBC reported. Unable to continue, Rupio handed her eulogy speech over to Atsu’s sister who continued for her. You did not go alone, for part of me went with you. Your smile, your love I see in our children’s smiles.’
Players and representatives from Hatayspor, the Turkish club Atsu was playing for when he was killed, also travelled to attend the ceremony.
Other than playing football, Atsu had been an ambassador for global children’s charity Arms Around The Child (AATC) since 2016. He was the main benefactor of a new school that is nearing completion in Senya Beraku in Ghana. He visited children and the project there on several occasions.
Atsu enjoyed an impressive football career after he broke through with Portuguese giants Porto. He also enjoyed a loan spell at Rio Ave, which helped earn him a move to Chelsea.
He spent five years at Stamford Bridge but never actually made an appearance for the first team. Instead, he spent temporary spells away from the club with Vitesse Arnhem, Everton, Bournemouth, Malaga and Newcastle, before he made a permanent move up north in 2016.
He was promoted to the Premier League with the club during the 2016-17 season under Rafa Benitez and he made 121 appearances in total over five years.