Football they say is a cure for poverty as most families across the World particularly in Africa and South America have been saved from generations of poverty because a member of the family made it as a professional footballer.
Yaya Toure, Sadio Mane, John Paintsil, Jay Jay Okocha, Samuel Eto’o, Steven Pienaar, Victor Moses, Stephen Appiah, and Michael Essien are some of the top football icons who have acquired mass wealth from football but were from poverty-stricken homes.
Today, we tell the story of one of Ghana’s footballers, who is also from a poor background but did his best to put smiles on the faces of less-privileged people after making it big in football.
Today we tell the story of Black Stars midfielder, Christian Atsu who has been missing since Monday, February 6, 2023, after being trapped under a rubble following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit south-central Turkey and Syria.
Born in Ada Foah in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana on January 10, 1992, Christian Atsu revealed that money was hard to come by while growing up. He once said that losing his father in tragic circumstances made life even more difficult for his family.
He told Goal that in the absence of his father, his mother and brother stepped up to assume the roles and ensure he and his other siblings survived.
Atsu always believed that “his old boy” could have been saved if his family had money or if he was well to do then.
“Yes 100 percent, I believe he would have survived if I was already a professional footballer, or if he had these health problems while I was at Porto.”
“I believe that he would have survived 100 % because I could have provided for him. I could have got him into a better hospital and he would have been fine. We used to speak about this whenever I met my family members. For him, this could have been the best moment to have seen me play.”
“For me, it is difficult because he sacrificed everything for me, and by the time I was good, he left. It is hard but this is life,” Atsu told Goal.
He also shared the story of how he went from sleeping in an uncompleted building with his family at Legon because life really became tough for them after the demise of their father.
Young Atsu also had to play football with his barefoot because his widowed mother couldn’t even afford to pay his fees so there was no way he could have even asked for money to buy boots.
“My mother couldn’t pay our fees, there were times we were sacked from school. My mother sold smoked fish, swept on the road for a living. She was in her 50s whiles she was doing all these.”
He couldn’t also afford to pay for transportation so he was walking from Madina to Achimota each day to train and play football till the scouts came for him.
“I often used the money my mother gave me for food as transportation to training grounds. But on the times when I didn’t have money, I mostly jogged from Madina to Achimota and back.
Atsu decided to give up on education when he found out that he had the talent to play football. His path to glory became clearer when he was spotted by scouts from Feyenoord’s Academy.
He stayed at Feyenoord’s Academy and rose through the ranks till 2009 when an opportunity came for him to go and do trials with Portuguese giants FC Porto.
Atsu revealed in his interview with GOAL that it was in Porto that he learned and felt the word pressure because he knew that was his moment of greatness.
“I had a trial. It wasn’t even a strict contract and my first trial was for three days. I had trials for three days and it wasn’t easy. I thank God that I had this opportunity. I was lucky to have this opportunity.
Atsu passed his trials and was drafted into the youth team of FC Porto where he spent before he made his breakthrough in the senior team for the Dragons in 2011 at the age of 19.
He was happy to sign his professional contract at the age of 18 and started taking care of his family financially.
“I was very happy because I could send money to my family and my friends. I was happy to sign my contract. At first, I signed a six-month contract, then a one-year contract, and then a three-year contract. I was happy because I had some money but that wasn’t the goal when I arrived.
Atsu in 2013, made it big when Chelsea came calling after he was identified as a long-term prospect.
Chelsea paid £3.5 million to FC Porto and signed Christian Atsu, who was subsequently loaned to Vitesse Arnhem, Everton, AFC Bournemouth, and Málaga.
Atsu after signing for Chelsea started enjoying the football money and at Newcastle, he was reportedly earning £32,000 weekly and which made him one of the richest Ghanaian footballers from 2016.
In September 2022, Christian Atsu joined Hatayspor as a free agent and reported taking close to $500,000 as a signing-on bonus.
The player has now joined the tall list of players who have used football to save his family from generations of poverty as he is currently worth over $2 million in cash alone.
Christian Atsu since making it big in life has also taken it upon himself to put smiles on the faces of poor people in his own small way.
Christian Atsu, in the past five years has been working closely with Crime Check Foundation to secure the release of over 120 prisoners, most of whom were petty offenders while others were jailed for not being able to pay certain debts.
He has also extended his generosity to poor mothers who go to the hospital to deliver but can’t pay for the services by settling their debts.