10 Things You Didn’t Know About Christian Atsu
Ghanaian footballer Christian Atsu, currently playing on loan to Everton from Chelsea in the Premier League, has become a household name in Ghana for his contributions to the country’s national team, the Black Stars. The technically gifted left winger was introduced on the international stage in 2013 and has since participated in both the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tournament and 2014 FIFA World Cup for Ghana, and is beginning to make waves in Europe with his talent. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about the up-and-coming star, Christian Atsu.
Sources: Ghana Web, PortuGOAL, ChelseaFC.com, BBC Sport, TheDailyTelegraph.com, TheGuardian.com, TransferMarket.co.uk, FootballTop.com, GhanaSoccerNet.com, Number10Role.com, Independent.co.uk
After his first match for the Ghanaian national team, he was nicknamed “a Ghanaian Messi”
After scoring in his first ever match for the Black Stars, fans and the media alike were quick to name Atsu after the Argentinian star, who also happens to be one of Atsu’s personal role models. Humble to the core, he was quick to ask to public to take back the dubbing, stating, “I can never play even one percent of what Messi is doing. And it is not because I am afraid of pressure it can bring but because my name is not Messi; it is Christian Atsu.”
Atsu has ten siblings
Born in Ada Foah, Ghana, Atsu has six brothers and four sisters, and worked from a young age to help provide for his family, mainly helping his mother sell kenkey at local markets and farming in his neighborhood. One of Atsu’s siblings is a twin sister.
Atsu’s childhood idol was Ghanaian legend, Abedi Pele
Atsu has named Ghanaian football legend, Abedi Pele, as one of his idols. Pele previously served as the captain of the national team, and was nicknamed “Pelé” after the Brazilian superstar as he was considered by many to be the greatest African footballer of all time. Atsu actually played with one of Pele’s sons, Jordan, for the Ghanaian team at the 2014 World Cup.
Despite displaying his football prowess at a young age, Atsu’s mother insisted he complete his education before joining a club full-time
Atsu was spotted at the age of ten while playing for his primary school by the Feyenoord Academy, a prestigious football academy in Gomoah-Fetteh. His mother, however, made him return home to complete his schooling, despite the fact that he was excelling on the field with the Dutch club.
Atsu’s move to FC Porto was marked by difficulties and injury
In January 2010, Atsu made the move to FC Porto, a Portuguese club, at the age of 17. He struggled to adapt to the new climate and language, and was also the victim of several injuries that kept him off the field for several stretches of time, but still managed to snag the FC Porto Youth Player of the Season award.
While on loan to Rio Ave in 2011, Atsu was named Rio Ave’s Player of the Season
During the 2011-12 season, Atsu scored 6 goals in 27 appearances, and was named the club’s Player of the Season. He earned rave reviews across the league, and it was his success with Rio Ave that led to his being called up to the Ghanaian national team in June 2012.
Atsu has said that playing for the Black Stars was a dream come true
After being called up to the Black Stars, Atsu could hardly contain his joy at playing for his country’s national team. He entered with a positive mentality and showed that he was willing to work for minutes, “I am a young player coming up and I met a lot of senior players here. I am settling in well but I will take my time and work hard so I get a chance in the team.” Despite his modesty, Atsu debuted in his first match against Lesotho on June 1, 2012, scoring one goal in team’s 5-0 victory that allowed Ghana to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
Atsu has been referred to as “mini-Hulk” by many FC Porto fans
Hulk, also known as Givanildo Vieira de Sousa, is a Brazilian player who lent his talents to FC Porto from 2008 to 2012. Given his nickname for his considerable size, as well as his resemblance to actor Lou Ferrigno who played the Incredible Hulk on “The Incredible Hulk” television series in the 1970s, Hulk was a key component of Porto’s offense. Atsu’s arrival, and similar style of play, quickly earned him the nickname “mini-Hulk” by many fans.
He ended up at Chelsea after negotiations to renew his contract with FC Porto stalemated
After briefly returning to FC Porto after his stint at Rio Ave, Atsu was meant to play a critical role in the team’s 2012-13 season. However, an ankle injury kept Atsu off the field for a time, and Porto was forced to respond to deals to trade the Ghanaian. Atsu signed a five-year contract with Chelsea on September 1, 2013, and was immediately loaned to the Dutch club Vitesse for his inaugural season.
Atsu’s loan to Everton was a joint decision with the management team at Chelsea
Atsu insists that he has a future with the team in Chelsea, and that the decision to play on loan to Everton for a season was a mutual one. In an interview, he said, “It’s not impossible to break through at Chelsea. For me, everything is possible. I have to work hard in everything, to get more playing time here at Everton, prove myself and also move the team forward. I also made the decision to go out on loan…I think it is best I get some experience on loan…For me it is the best option.”
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