The reception for the late Christian Atsu at St James’ Park on Saturday night showed just popular the Ghanaian was during his spell on Tyneside.
And now Newcastle United fans are being urged by a supporters group – Talk of Tyneside – to continue his legacy by donating to raise money for the “Arms Around The Child” charity, an organisation that Christian had been involved with for a number of years.
The former Newcastle winger, who made 121 appearances for the Magpies between 2016 and 2021 and played a piviotal role in their promotion from the Championship in 2017, had been missing since the 6th February following the Turkey and Syria earthquake that rocked the world. He had been playing for Turkish Super League side Hatayspor, and had scored a match winning free-kick for his side just hours before the devastating quake struck.
After being trapped underneath his collapsed apartment block with a number of team-mates, the 31-year-old was misidentified in the days after the quake and was reported to be hospitalised, but his wife Marie-Claire Rupio later confirmed in an interview with BBC news that Atsu had not been found and was indeed still missing.
And sadly, and despite the best efforts of rescue workers in Turkey, Atsu’s body was found late last week, with a representative of the winger confirming the news on social media.
His wife and children, who still live in Newcastle, were at St James’ Park as his face was displayed on the big screen before Newcastle’s 2-0 defeat to Liverpool on Saturday evening, and a minutes applause was undertaken with Liverpool fans breaking into a chorus of “You’ll never walk alone”.
And the Newcastle fans are rallying round to continue the fine work Christian had started with Arms Around The Children. The charity, which aims to help vulnerable children, embarked on a project in 2018 with Atsu to build a new school in Senya Veraku, Ghana. Christian and the charity organised the Black Star Gala, a special fundraising event at the Hilton Hotel in Gateshead, Newcastle to kickstart the fundraising effort for a new school.
A spokesperson for Talk of Tyneside told The Mag: “Christian Atsu was a well-loved figure on Tyneside and this has been highlighted by the scale of tributes paid to him by Newcastle United Football club and its fans.
“Following his passing, we were hoping to find a way to give supporters a way to show appreciation for his service to the club, and raising money for a fantastic charity that he worked with feels like the perfect way to do so.
With the project now nearly completed, Talk of Tyneside are looking to give it one final push to finish the work Atsu started. Over £3500 has been raised so far, and donations are rising by the hour as word spreads.
Everyone is rallying round to ensure Atsu’s legacy continues, and his desire to help and support communities back in Ghana through Arms Around The Child will no doubt live on in the future.