The body of Ghana winger Christian Atsu was flown home to Accra on Sunday evening, the day after he was found dead under a collapsed building in southern Turkey.
Atsu had been missing since the Feb. 6 earthquake following the collapse of an apartment building in Hatay. He was 31.
Draped in Ghana’s national flag, Atsu’s coffin was received at the capital’s Kotoko International Airport by Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia and a large military honour guard.
“We hoped against hope, every day that passed, we prayed and prayed. But alas, when he was found, he was no more,” Bawumia told a crowd of mourners on the tarmac.
Atsu had been scheduled to fly out of southern Turkey hours before the quake but Hatayspor’s manager said on Friday the Ghanaian had opted to stay with the club after scoring the winning goal in a Feb. 5 Super Lig match.
He joined Hatayspor in September last year after spells with English Premier League clubs Everton, Chelsea and Newcastle United.
He also won 65 caps for Ghana and helped them reach the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations final, where they lost to Ivory Coast on penalties. He was last selected to play for Ghana in 2019.
“We would like to express our deepest condolences to his wife and children, the family, loved ones and the football community,” the Ghana Football Association said on Saturday. “May his soul rest in peace.”