Ghana deputy captain Thomas Partey paid an emotional tribute to the late compatriot Christian Atsu after helping Arsenal complete a stunning comeback on Saturday.
Atsu sadly fell victim to last month’s disastrous earthquake in Turkey and Syria, which has claimed the lives of more than 50,000 people. Partey played alongside Atsu at the international level for Ghana, with the latter earning 65 caps before passing away aged 31.
Partey was keen to pay his respects to his former team-mate after Arsenal recovered from two goals down to beat Bournemouth 3-2 at the Emirates. The midfielder scored Arsenal’s first goal on the way to recovery but could not fully reveal a message to Atsu on his undershirt.
After the result was confirmed, Partey took off his Arsenal shirt with a message that read: “Rest well, Christian Atsu.”
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Interestingly, Partey scored on the day that a One-Week Observation was being held back home in Accra in memory of Atsu, with whom he shared 17 international appearances during his career. During the event, March 17 was announced as the date for Atsu’s final funeral rites.
March 17 date for final funeral rites of Christian Atsu
Atsu, the former Premier League star, was on the books at Turkish club Hatayspor when the earthquake struck the region on Monday, February 6. He scored the winner for Hatayspor in their Super Lig game against Kasimpasa the night before the devastating event.
Atsu was reported as missing within hours of the earthquake. It was initially announced that the winger was found alive after being pulled from the rubble on Tuesday, February 7. Yet two days later, it was confirmed that Atsu was still missing.
On Saturday, February 18, Atsu’s death was announced. His body was flown back to Ghana for the funeral, which will take place later this month. Partey’s family recently attended a service to commemorate Atsu’s life. “Always in my heart,” tweeted Partey.
Atsu spent much of his career in England. He represented Chelsea, Everton, Bournemouth and Newcastle – playing more than 100 games for the latter club. He also spent time at Porto, Rio Ave, Vitesse, Malaga and Al Read, as well as Hatayspor.
Saturday was the first time Partey started a Premier League game since Atsu’s passing. Arsenal were tipped to beat Bournemouth due to their respective positions.
However, the league leaders went 1-0 down after just nine seconds following Philip Billing’s close-range finish.
Marcos Senesi doubled the Cherries’ lead to stun the hosts, but Partey pulled one back five minutes later.
The Gunners drew level when Ben White scored his first goal for the club as the clock ticked down.
Reiss Nelson came off the bench to assist the defender before getting onto the scoresheet himself with a 97th-minute strike.
Arsenal are once again five points clear of Manchester City at the top of the table, with Partey proving crucial once again.