Christian Atsu’s partner Marie-Claire Rupio says she “hopes his name will never go away”, six months after his tragic death.
In an exclusive interview with the BBC, Rupio has spoken about the former Newcastle and Ghana midfielder losing his life in the earthquakes that devastated parts of Turkey and Syria.
They claimed more than 50,000 lives with Atsu, 31, found dead under the rubble of his home in Antakya on 18 February, almost two weeks after the quakes.
He and Rupio had three children together, aged nine, six and three at the time of his loss.
“For me, it’s very important that his name is still there, especially for the children, that he was known, that he was loved by everybody,” she says.
“I just hope that his name will never go away.”
Speaking to media for the first time since his passing, Rubio describes the confusion over whether Atsu was safe, hearing about developments on the radio and the impact his death has had on her and their children.
‘I was shocked, it was hard to believe’
Atsu was in Turkey having signed for Hatayspor last September, while his family remained in Newcastle.
Rupio last spoke with him on Saturday, 4 February, and because his team were playing Kasimpasa the next day, he planned to speak with her again on the Monday.
Atsu scored the game’s only goal in stoppage time and his partner messaged to congratulate him. His reply to thank her would be the last contact they had.
On the Monday, Rupio heard about the earthquake on the radio while driving.
“I didn’t believe that it could happen in a place [where] he would be,” she said. “As a human being, you think this can’t happen to you or anybody you love.
“I was like ‘he’s fine and he will call’. But then after a while his sister called and told me that his building had totally collapsed. I was shocked, it was hard to believe.”
Subsequent news reports created confusion over what had happened with Atsu, who made 121 appearances for Newcastle between 2016 and 2021.
More to follow.
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