Mohammed Kudus was thankful to the referee for understanding his tribute to Christian Atsu was "bigger than the rules of football".

Kudus scored the final goal in Ajax's 4-0 rout of Sparta Rotterdam on Sunday, moving John Heitinga's team into second in the Eredivisie. 

The Ghana international who enjoyed a fine World Cup, curled in a free-kick in the 84th minute and celebrated by removing his shirt to show an undershirt with the message "RIP Atsu".

It was confirmed on Saturday that former Chelsea, Porto, Newcastle United and Everton winger Atsu had died in the earthquakes that shook southern Turkey and northern Syria.

The 31-year-old had been missing since February 6, but his body was eventually recovered from the rubble of his apartment building in the city of Hatay, where he had been playing for Hatayspor.

Kudus scoring from a left-footed free-kick was a fitting tribute in itself to his late compatriot Atsu, who netted with the same kind of effort in his final game, on February 5.

Referee Pol van Boekel spoke with Kudus after his celebration, but did not book the 22-year-old.

Kudus told ESPN: "This is bigger than the rules of football, it's about life and death.

"The referee said it was not allowed, but he understood the situation. I am grateful to him for that and I respect him very much."

Explaining his tribute, Kudus said: "This one was for Christian. Everyone knows what happened in Turkey. I chose this because he is dear to me. 

"It's naturally for all those families that are affected. I learned a lot from watching him, he also regularly gave me advice. Everything I gave today was for him. 

"If I hadn't have scored, I would have shown the shirt after the game."

Over 47,000 people have died as a result of the earthquakes.

John Terry led tributes to former Chelsea and Newcastle United winger Christian Atsu, who was confirmed to have died in the earthquakes that hit Turkey earlier this month.

Atsu was reported to be missing in the immediate aftermath of the tremors that struck southern Turkey and northern Syria on February 6.

The former Ghana international joined Turkish Super Lig outfit Hatayspor last September and scored for the side the day before the earthquakes.

After the tremors caused the collapse of the apartment block in which Atsu was living, his club initially said he had been recovered from the rubble and hospitalised, but that was later confirmed to not be the case.

Following confirmation of Atsu's death on Saturday, Terry – who was a team-mate of Atsu's during the Ghanaian's four-year spell at Chelsea, for whom he did not make a competitive appearance – paid tribute on social media. 

"RIP my friend," the former England captain wrote on Twitter, alongside an image of Atsu.

Atsu's former clubs also expressed their condolences on Saturday, with Chelsea saying his death caused "enormous sadness" and Newcastle calling him: "A talented player and a special person, he will always be fondly remembered by our players, staff and supporters."

Other former team-mates paid tribute on Instagram, with Cesc Fabregas calling his death "heart-breaking" and Michael Essien saying: "Rest well king".

Bournemouth, where Atsu spent the first half of the 2015-16 season on loan, will join Chelsea and Newcastle in paying tribute to Atsu during Saturday's Premier League games.

Players from all three clubs will wear commemorative black armbands for their respective fixtures, while Chelsea will hold a minute's applause ahead of their meeting with Southampton, and Newcastle and Liverpool will observe a minute's silence before their clash at St James' Park. 

Christian Atsu has been found dead after the earthquakes that hit Turkey, his Super Lig club announced on Saturday.

The former Premier League player had not been seen since southern Turkey and northern Syria were hit by powerful tremors on February 6.

Previously with Newcastle United, Chelsea and Everton, Atsu scored for Hatayspor the day before the earthquakes, which resulted in the collapse of the apartment block in which the 31-year-old was living. 

Atsu's club initially reported he had been recovered from the rubble, but it was subsequently confirmed that was not the case.

Hatayspor's update said Atsu's body had now been recovered and was being returned to his homeland of Ghana.

The club said in a statement posted on social media: "The funeral of our football player Christian Atsu, who lost his life under the rubble, is on his way to be sent to his hometown [in] Ghana.

"We will not forget you, Atsu. Peace be upon you, beautiful person.

"There are no words to describe our sadness. REST in PEACE ATSU."

Over 40,000 people have been reported by local authorities to have died due to the earthquakes.

Christian Atsu's agent has implored the winger's club Hatayspor to offer more support with the search for the missing Ghanaian.

Atsu has not been located since the earthquakes hit southern Turkey and northern Syria over a week ago.

Former Newcastle United, Chelsea and Everton player Atsu scored for Hatayspor the day before the earthquakes, which resulted in the collapse of the apartment block in which he was living. 

Along with the club's sporting director, Taner Savut, Atsu is yet to be found.

Atsu's club initially reported that he had been recovered from the rubble, but it was subsequently confirmed this was not the case.

Atsu's agent, Nana Sechere, has travelled to Hatay in an attempt to assist with the search for his client, but he does not believe Hatayspor are offering enough support.

"It has been nine days since the earthquake and we still have not located Christian," Sechere told Sky Sports. "I am at the quake site in Hatay with Christian's family.

"The scenes are unimaginable and our hearts are broken for all the people affected.

"During my time here we have been able to locate Christian's exact room location, and we have found two pairs of his shoes.

"Yesterday we received confirmation that thermal imagery was showing signs of up to five lives, however, I am told that the only real confirmation or life Is through sight, smell and sound, and unfortunately we were not able to locate Christian.

"This is a difficult situation and we are extremely grateful to all the Turkish and foreign rescue teams, local civilians and volunteers for their efforts and response in rescuing survivors.

"However, we urgently need more resources, including a translator, on the ground. Things are moving incredibly slow and, as a result of that, many rescues are being delayed, and lives are being lost due to the lack of resources available to the workers.

"It is unfortunate that the club is not on the ground with us, side by side, in the search for Christian. Their position and influence, accompanied with their local knowledge, would be extremely helpful.

"We implore the president of the club and mayor of Hatay, Lutfu Savas, to provide additional resources to speed up the rescue efforts as a priority."

Over 40,000 people are reported to have died due to the earthquakes.

UEFA has confirmed a minute's silence will be held at each of this week's European ties as a mark of respect for the victims of the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

Over 33,000 people are confirmed to have died after high-magnitude earthquakes struck southern Turkey and northern Syria last Monday, and the United Nations' aid agency on the ground says that toll is likely to double.

Turkey has said over a million people in the country are using temporary shelters after the tremors, while over five million people are estimated to have been made homeless in Syria.

Ahead of this week's knockout-stage matches in the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League, UEFA has confirmed the details of tributes to show support for those affected.

A minute's silence will be observed before every fixture across UEFA's club competitions this week, while a commemorative banner featuring the message, 'We are together with you', will be displayed in Turkish and Arabic.

A statement released by European football's governing body on Monday also confirmed black armbands could be worn at the discretion of teams and referees.

Last week, UEFA confirmed it would donate €150,000 to the Turkish Football Federation and an additional €50,000 to the Bonyan Organization and Tiafi, both assisting in disaster relief.

Trabzonspor are the only Turkish club in action in UEFA's competitions this week, hosting Basel in the first leg of their Europa Conference League knockout round play-off tie.

Istanbul Basaksehir and Sivasspor advanced to the last 16 of that competition as group winners, while Fenerbahce are into the same round in the Europa League.

Hatayspor and Gaziantep, two clubs based in the region effected by the earthquake, have withdrawn from the Turkish Super Lig.

Former Chelsea, Newcastle United and Everton winger Christian Atsu, who plays for Hatayspor, is still missing.

Eddie Howe has expressed concern for former Newcastle United and Bournemouth winger Christian Atsu amid conflicting reports over the Hatayspor player's welfare after earthquakes hit Turkey and Syria.

More than 21,000 people have died after southern Turkey and northern Syria were struck by earthquakes on Monday.

Atsu, who enjoyed five years with Newcastle after spending six months on loan at Bournemouth under Howe in the 2015-16 season, was reported to be missing in the aftermath of the tremors.

There appeared to be a positive update on Atsu when Hatayspor vice-president Mustafa Ozat said he had been "removed from the wreckage" on Tuesday, but the club remained unable to confirm his whereabouts the following day and said there was no update on Atsu's condition.

Howe had Atsu and his family in his thoughts ahead of Saturday's meeting between the winger's two former clubs, saying: "It's hugely worrying. 

"I really, really enjoyed working with Christian, a great lad, great player. Our thoughts are with him and his family.

"We hope for some good news, we hope he's okay, but we're really concerned for him and his welfare this week.

"It has been difficult because there have been conflicting stories coming out about his whereabouts, so it's been very tough. I can't imagine how his family are feeling.

"But from the bottom of our hearts, we wish him well and hope there's a positive ending."

Hatayspor have still not been able to locate Christian Atsu after being told the winger was in hospital following an earthquake.

More than 9,000 people have been killed in earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

Atsu, playing for Super Lig club Hatayspor, was reported to be missing, along with sporting director Taner Savut, in the aftermath of the tremors.

But it had appeared Hatayspor were able to relay positive news on Tuesday when club vice-president Mustafa Ozat said Atsu was "removed from the wreckage with injuries".

Concern remained on Wednesday, however, as this update, given to Hatayspor, could not be corroborated when the club made contact with the hospital.

In a statement reported by Hurriyet, Hatayspor doctor Gurbey Kahveci said: "[The club were told] 'He was taken to Dortyol Hospital', and when the news came, we went and looked, but he is not there.

"Unfortunately, we accept that Taner and Christian Atsu have not been found at the moment."

Hatayspor coach Volkan Demirel was frustrated the initial update – which was welcomed by Atsu's former club Newcastle United and the Ghana Football Association – had been passed on.

"Please do not write that he was saved without being sure," Demirel told Hurriyet. "People have families. Hopes, sorrows, pains are increasing.

"There is no news from Atsu and Taner Savut yet. Wouldn't I share it if they were in the hospital? I'll share it as soon as the news comes."

Describing his own experiences in recent days, the coach added: "We've been through a lot of hard things.

"We took the people who came to believe in me out of a thin gap, a gap where even the weather would be difficult, and thankfully they all survived.

"People are working day and night, I hope they will both be saved. The whole team took refuge in their families. As the information comes, I share everything."

Christian Atsu has been pulled from the rubble of a building "with injuries" after the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

There was concern for the Hatayspor winger when reports emerged search and rescue teams were still looking for him, as well as the club's sporting director Taner Savut, after the tremors.

The earthquakes are estimated to have killed more than 5,000 people, with Hatay one of the most affected areas due to its close proximity to the epicentre.

But Hatayspor's vice-president Mustafa Ozat released positive news that Atsu, who made 107 league appearances for Newcastle United between 2016 and 2020, was alive when pulled from a collapsed building, though Savut remains in the rubble.

"Christian Atsu was removed from the wreckage with injuries," Ozat told Radyo Gol. "Unfortunately, our sporting director Taner Savut is still under the rubble.

"Hatay was deeply affected. We are coming towards the end of the most dangerous hours."

The Ghana Football Association tweeted: "We've received some positive news that Christian Atsu has been successfully rescued from the rubble of the collapsed building and is receiving treatment.

"Let's continue to pray for Christian."

There is concern for Hatayspor winger Christian Atsu following devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

The tremors have killed more than 2,000 people, and reports suggest search and rescue teams are still looking for Atsu, along with his club's sporting director Taner Savut.

Atsu, 31, scored a stoppage-time winner for Hatayspor in Sunday's Super Lig game against Kasimpasa.

The Ghana Football Association was seeking to make contact with Hatayspor as news was awaited on the player's wellbeing.

"We pray for Ghana international Christian Atsu and victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria," a Twitter post said.

"We continue with our efforts to establish contact with officials of Hatayspor and the Turkish Football Federation, considering the difficult situation.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Christian Atsu and our brothers and sisters in Turkey and Syria. We remain hopeful for positive news."

Newcastle United, who Atsu represented for five years, playing 121 times, posted: "Praying for some positive news, @ChristianAtsu20."

Several leading players have shared their support for those affected in Turkey and Syria.

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