It is a very long way from Ghana’s Ada Foah to Hillsong church on Newcastle’s Westgate Road – and not merely in miles.
Christian Atsu has made that transformative journey, swapping an existence as one of 10 children whose late father eked out a living fishing and farming on the junction of the Volta River and the Atlantic Ocean, for a new life on Tyneside.
Almost everything has altered but one constant remains: the Newcastle winger’s Christian faith. Church was a central part of Atsu’s childhood and worship at Hillsong, a short walk from St James’ Park, binds the Ghana international to his new habitat.
“I’m very happy at Hillsong and very happy in Newcastle,” he says. “Football changed my life completely; sometimes what’s happened seems like a miracle but it’s enabled me to help my community and my family.