On Saturday morning, 18th February, 2023, when the sudden news of your demise was fully confirmed by your manager and other media houses across the world, I got ‘frozen’ on my seat. On that Saturday morning, as early as 7am, messages from friends and loved ones in Dubai, re-confirming your passing set our teeth on edge.
Champ, l couldn’t believe my eyes, especially with images of how you struggled or wriggled to death…’Oh Lord, teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto godly wisdom,’ says the psalmist. I have never felt emotionally wounded like the unexpected exit of our gallant star, Christian Atsu.
As you read this tribute, I believe you share the same sentiment. It is painfully painful. It is unbelievable. We have cried over and over to the point where the forte to snuffle or sob is completely obstruse. Death, you are so wicked!
There are a lot to learn from you, Champ. Christian Atsu, you have showed our world how to love the unlovable. You shared your mite with the needy and the less-privileged in our society. You conquered racial prejudice with your gifted legs and wisdom. On the field of play, you made your nation so proud, especially the 2015 African Cup of Nations, where you were finally voted as the Orange Star of the tournament.
Your dexterous performance at the club level was exciting to watch. Was your last match in Turkey, where you scored that brilliant goal from that long range for your club, Hatayspor, a farewell signature? Hmmm. Wow! I still believe life is some way…
Champ, your legacy of peace, tolerance and humble disposition shall never be forgotten in the history of Ghana Football and the world at large. With your calm disposition and magnanimity, you have paved the way for other soccer stars to follow your good deeds. You have served your nation and people across the world with modesty and sobriety without flattery of survivors but purely for the glory of your Maker and the excitement of others. The commendations of this man, no matter how praiseworthy they are, were not words but deeds. Christian Atsu, you have fought well.
Trapped beneath the earth, with no sight in view. Hidden from the eyes of men for over ten (10) days. Interwoven or intertwined between concrete constituents and pitched to an opposing wall to hang…hmmm! I could imagine the internal bleeding you might have sustained in your body system, with no strength to scream for any rescue team to hear your voice. Oh God! Life is short!
Just 45 seconds of earthquake, your life including over 41,000 people have come to an end. Indeed, this world is not our actual home. We are here on earth to ‘transact business’ with our God-given talents, skills and good deeds. Whenever our time is up, the Master knows when to call us. That is the reason why we should lead a humble life, full of love and respect for one another. Pride and selfish ambition do not hold water in the hermitage of life.
Humanly speaking, there are a lot of questions on our minds concerning the demise of our darling player. However, we are finite and cannot understand the ways of the infinite God. Why should ‘bad things’ happen to good people? We cannot give a definite answer. Only the Almighty, who knows the end from the beginning, understands all things.
Christian Atsu, you lived for only thirty-one (31) years, however, your impact across the world is unimaginable.
I never met you in person; but from a distance, I was one of your surreptitious admirers for these reasons:
- Your humility.
- Your love for people.
- Your respect for the elderly, your colleagues and the younger ones.
- Your philanthropic or humanitarian activities.
- Your sense of patriotism.
- Your love for family-building; and finally
- Your God-fearing heart.
Ghana has lost a great gem. The continent of Africa is emotionally broken. The world of football is totally devastated.
Friends, no one knows how we shall exit from the living. The best is to fear God and deal peaceably with all men. The future is not known! Wicked thoughts, selfish scheming, and acts of destructive gossiping, backbiting and nepotistic measures to life’s issues should not be part of our lives. Sometimes, what we fight for – using diabolic means – may not be the ultimate in life. Thus, let’s fear God, stay humble, and use our gifts and talents to make the lives of others better.
Christian Atsu, you shall continue to be in our hearts, Champ. Your life reminds me of Mozart, who also lived for only 33 years; yet his impact on the history of music still speaks. Not forgetting Handel and Bach, whose impact on classical music is still felt today. Nii Okradatu also lived for only 33 years, but his effort in the establishment of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana still speaks about him even though he has been dead and gone for over 100 years.
Champ Atsu, your service to humanity will keep on resounding centuries from today.
To the immediate family, loved ones, and the entire football fraternity across the world, may the good Lord strengthen and protect us all.
Rest well, Maestro Christian Atsu!
The writer is an Academic, Visiting Lecturer, Leadership Consultant and a Reverend Minister with the WordSprings City Church, Kumasi-Ghana.