A former Premier League footballer pulled from the wreckage of his collapsed apartment block had plunged from the ninth floor of an 11-storey building.
Christian Atsu, 31, was on the books at Chelsea and played for Everton, Bournemouth and Newcastle before moving to Turkish club Hatayspor in September last year. The Ghanaian scored in the final minute of the club’s match against rivals Kasimpasa on Sunday afternoon and returned home to his apartment after celebrating with a late-night game of poker with his team-mates before the earthquake struck.
Atsu’s agent, Nana Sechere, who is in London, said: “The last I heard from him was at midnight on Sunday. Christian and his team-mates were playing poker until 3:30am at a friend’s apartment.
“The journey back to his apartment was around half an hour. He returned at 4am and the earthquake started around 20 minutes later. I didn’t know anything until I received a call from a club official at 5am asking if I’d heard from Christian. He told me Christian’s building had been completely destroyed and that they couldn’t get hold of him.
“I was hoping he was awake and that the earthquake hadn’t happened while he was sleeping. He was in an 11-storey building and he was on the ninth floor. The club officials were trying to help me find him but it was so hard because, understandably, they were trying to find their own friends and families as well.
“There were lots of reports out of England and Ghana that Christian was safe but the first official confirmation I had was from the club at 6am on Tuesday morning.
“They told me that he was in hospital and that he is stable. He doesn’t have his phone and, like all of us, he can’t remember his numbers by heart, so I have to continue to wait to speak to him.”
Atsu was part of the Newcastle team which won promotion back to the Premier League in 2017. Sechere revealed he too would easily have been caught up in the carnage had it not been for his failure to get a flight in time to see his client play.
“I was due to fly out on Friday,” he said. “But the flight would have arrived on Sunday after Christian’s game had finished, so I asked for another flight. Had I taken that original one, I would have been there too. It’s only God that saved me. There is a God. My wife is so grateful that I didn’t fly in the end.”