“Our legacy is how we spend our time and who we spend it with.” – Jim Stengel.
In the death of Christian Atsu, football has lost one of its most promising players, and society has lost a great tree on which many leaned.
The game of football, together with the fame that comes with attaining international recognition, comes with a heavy responsibility. Atsu shouldered this responsibility differently, appreciating the freedom and privilege that football brought him and believing that it was only in affecting the lives of others that he could truly make meaning of his own life.
Hopes were high when earlier reports said the former winger had been rescued after the deadly earthquake that rocked Turkey and Syria, but when Hatayspor, Atsu’s club, and his agent, Sechere, later revealed that the claims were untrue, that hope dwindled with each passing day.
Atsu may have made his name in football, but there are those who have never watched him play, to whom he has only been known to as a source of hope.
After growing up in Ghana, Atsu moved to Portugal to pursue his dream of becoming a professional footballer at the age of just 17. He once recalled in an interview with Goal how he and his family had to sleep in an uncompleted building due to hardship occasioned by his father’s death.
Perhaps these circumstances shaped the man who came to be known by many as a helper of the less privileged. In 2016, Atsu partnered with Crime Check Foundation, a local NGO that provides access to justice for indigent prisoners who cannot afford court fines or to perfect their bail conditions. For eight years, the young footballer dedicated much of his earnings to helping forgotten prisoners regain their freedom.
Those prisoners are not the only beneficiaries of Atsu’s helping hand. His generosity was felt across hospitals in Ghana, where he regularly visited to settle debts owed by poor mothers who had been detained in hospitals for their inability to pay for hospital services after giving birth.
Little wonder that Atsu’s club, Hatayspor, described him as a “beautiful person”. Former colleague and ex-Chelsea captain, John Terry, also described the Ghanaian international as one of the nicest people in football.
Atsu has made a huge impact in the lives of many and his legacy is one that must be recognised and celebrated. He is truly an eminent man and EMY Africa honors his memory and celebrates his strides and impact.
Our condolences are with his wife and three beautiful kids who have been most affected by this tragic loss, as well as his extended family, friends, beneficiaries, and football fans across the world.