According to Demirel, Atsu’s last words to him were ‘I want to keep playing’.
Speaking to The Athletic, Demirel said prior to Atsu’s last match as a footballer, he had been battling injuries for two months, but announced himself fit a few days before the game.
“For two months he’d not played because of injury but in the week building up to the game he came to my office and said that he was ready to play. I told him that’s good, but he wasn’t ready to start. In the last 10 minutes, we decided to put him on.”
Nonetheless, Atsu made the few minutes count as he scored a freekick in the last breath of the match to give Hatayspor a needed win over Kasimpasa on February 5, 2023.
“In the last minute, we got a free-kick and I was telling him to cross it, but he told his teammates he was going to shoot, and he scored a beautiful free-kick.”
“I was so happy for him because he’d been out for a while. He was a good player, but most importantly a good man, a good character, he helped everyone, he would always give money to staff. He had a very big heart.”
Demirel then revealed that Atsu, who was full of joy after marking his return with a goal, told him ‘I want to keep playing’, which turned out to be the last words he heard from the Ghanaian.
“After the match, he said to me, ‘I want to keep playing’. The last time I saw him he was happy and then he was gone.”
Christian Atsu passed in February after his lifeless body was recovered from the rubble of his collapsed apartment in Hatay following an earthquake that struck Turkey on February 6, 2023.
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