Rafael Benitez and Eddie Howe directed tributes Christian AtsuHe died after a devastating earthquake. Turkey And Syria.
Former Newcastle The death of midfielder Atsu was announced on Twitter by his manager, Nana Sechere, who said that the player’s body was found 12 days after the disaster in which more than 40,000 people died.
Former Newcastle manager Benitez, who spent a little over three years at St James’ Park until 2019, said he was in contact with his former player last month.
Benitez told Sky Sports: “I was in contact with him last month. We were sharing some messages – it’s very difficult for me to express in English – but I was feeling very bad and trying to communicate with him.
“I also don’t want to forget other people because there are a lot of people going through a really tough time and I think we should somehow help and remember Christian today. He’s really upset.”
Benitez said, “It’s really sad because he was a good, beautiful, special person. He was a good professional. I’m not talking about whether he was a good actor, he was a good lad and a good actor, but he was a particularly good person.
“So it’s a special person, and you can always see pictures of everyone smiling, whether they’re playing or not.”
Howe worked with Atsu while on loan at Howe’s old club, Bournemouth, and the Newcastle boss paid tribute to him at the post-Liverpool press conference.
“It’s a very difficult day. It was devastating for me to wake up to the news, everyone associated with Newcastle, anyone who knew Christian,” Howe said.
“I worked with him for a season and he was an amazing, friendly guy, a really good person, a really good teammate and an outstanding player.
“It puts everything in perspective. We are devastated for him and his family.”
Newcastle winger Allan Saint-Maximin told Sky Sports: “It’s hard to explain. I won’t lie, I’ve never seen a man like this before when I came to Newcastle.
“Even if we played in the same position, he always gave me advice, always. He was a very nice guy who always joked and smiled when he played or not.
“He was a great person so it’s sad for me especially knowing him but I’ll do my best to think about it and put that in the game and play as well as possible.”
Atsu’s death was announced by his manager, Sechere, in a post published earlier on Saturday.
“With all my condolences, I regret to inform you that Christian Atsu’s body was recovered this morning,” said Sechere.
“My condolences to his family and loved ones. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their prayers and support.
“As we make the necessary arrangements, I ask everyone to respect the privacy of the family during this very difficult time.”
The 31-year-old Ghana national Atsu was playing for Turkey Super League side Hatayspor.
He made 121 appearances for Newcastle and was part of the team that promoted to the Premier League in 2017 before leaving the club four years later.
“We are deeply saddened to learn that Christian Atsu tragically passed away in the devastating earthquakes that occurred in Turkey,” Newcastle said in a statement on its Twitter account.
“A talented player and a special person, he will always be fondly remembered by our players, coaches and fans. Rest in peace Christian.”
Atsu was also on loan spells at Everton and Bournemouth while on a contract with Chelsea.
The Blues tweeted: “Everyone at Chelsea Football Club was devastated to learn of the tragic death of our former player, Christian Atsu. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Former Chelsea captain John Terry shared a photo of Atsu in a tweet with the message “My RAP friend”.
Atsu made 13 appearances for Everton on a one-season loan with Merseyside in the 2014-2015 season.
“Today we are deeply saddened by the news that Christian Atsu was found dead following the earthquake that struck Turkey earlier this month,” the Goodison Park club wrote on Twitter.
Our thoughts are with his family, friends, colleagues at @Hatayspor_FK and everyone else affected by this tragic event that has claimed so many lives.”