This afternoon, the footballing world found out the tragic news that former Twente and Newcastle midfielder Cheick Tiote had collapsed during a training session in Beijing and died at the age of just 30.
The Ivorian, who made 52 appearances for his country, had only signed for second-tier Chinese club Beijing Enterprises four months ago. He made just 11 appearances for the Asian outfit.
His career took off at Anderlecht, where he won two Belgian titles and a Belgian super cup. He then moved to Holland, where he played for both Roda and Twente. There, Tiote won the domestic double in 2010 with the latter under Steve McLaren.
He then moved to Newcastle United and made 156 appearances for the Magpies during his six-and-a-half-year stay on Tyneside.
When he took to the field, he didn’t light up the stadia with fancy footwork and tricks. Instead he was the man in the middle doing the dirty work: intercepting passes and making crucial challenges for his side.
He was without doubt the commander within the Toon Army. He was a player that dictated any game he was involved in.
Newcastle are one of the country’s leading clubs, with a fantastic fanbase. He galvanised their love for the game on the pitch. He was Newcastle through and through and It’s no wonder he was adored by their supporters.
Tiote wasn’t a prolific goalscorer either. In fact, the Ivorian only netted once for Newcastle, although it was a goal that will live long in the memory of most fans.
His strike secured a remarkable point for the Magpies as they came back from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 with Arsenal at St.James’s Park in 2011.
The central midfielder represented his country at both the 2010 and 2014 World Cups in South Africa and Brazil respectively. He was also part of the Ivory Coast side that won the 2015 African Cup of Nations.
An underrated footballer taken from us all way too early.