Christian Atsu was declared dead on Saturday, almost two weeks after the earthquake that has already taken thousands of lives in Turkey and Syria.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement confirming the arrival of his remains in Ghana on February 19 after his club, Hatayspor, announced his demise.
In southern Turkey, Atsu’s body was discovered on Saturday under his house.
He was a member of the Hatayspor team.
The winger contributed to Ghana reaching the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations final during his 65 appearances for the country’s national team.
The 31-year-old also made appearances for Everton and Newcastle in the Premier League.
Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia of Ghana said this while speaking at Kotoka Airport in the nation’s capital, Accra: “We hoped against hope, every day that passed, we prayed and prayed. But alas, when he was found, he was no more.”
“It is a painful loss, a very painful one.”
He promised Atsu would be given a “befitting” burial.
After the deadly 7.8 magnitude earthquake on February 6 triggered the collapse of his flat in Antakya, in severely damaged Hatay province, Atsu has been missing.
The player’s agent announced his death on Twitter on Saturday, contradicting the first claim made by the Hatayspor club that he had been saved with injuries.
It is confirmed that around 44,000 people have died in southern Turkey and northern Syria.
According to Ghana’s foreign ministry, the footballer’s family and Francisca Ashietey-Odunton, Ghana’s ambassador to Turkey, traveled with the footballer’s remains from Turkey.
At 19:25 GMT, the jet touched down in Accra, where it was welcomed by family members, government dignitaries, and Ghana Football Association representatives.
Afterwards, the casket was scheduled to be moved to a military hospital mortuary.
For the deceased player, condolences have flooded in.
During the team’s Premier League match against Liverpool on Saturday, his wife Marie-Claire Rupio and their three children joined Newcastle supporters in observing a minute of silence.
For Newcastle, Atsu played from 2016 until 2021.
Before bursting into cheers, away fans screamed “you’ll never walk alone” as Atsu’s face appeared on the big screen.
After scoring for Dutch team Ajax on Sunday, Ghana Blackstars player Mohammed Kudus removed his jersey to reveal a white shirt with the words “RIP Atsu” inscribed on it.
According to the organization Arms Around The Child, who has recognized Atsu as an ambassador since 2016, he has been the “primary beneficiary” of a school in Ghana that helps abandoned children, orphans, the chronically ill, and those who have been rescued from trafficking.
“A young boy from poverty in Ghana who followed his dreams and used his talent and platform to help others,” they said of Atsu.