FORMER Newcastle midfielder and Ivory Coast international Cheick Tiote has died at the age of 30 after collapsing in training with his club Beijing Enterprises, a spokesman for the player has announced.
Tiote, who only moved to the Chinese second division outfit four months ago, was said to have been taken to hospital on Monday after collapsing at a training session.
Tiote’s spokesman Emanuele Palladino, said: “It is with deep sadness that I confirm that my client Cheick Tiote sadly passed away earlier today after collapsing in training with his club Beijing Enterprises.
“We cannot say any more at the moment and we request that his family’s privacy be respected at this difficult time.
“We ask for all your prayers.”
After seven years at Newcastle, Tiote moved to China League One club Beijing Enterprises in February.
Newcastle United manager Rafa Benítez – who worked with the Ivory Coast international at the end of the 2015/16 campaign and for the first part of last season – praised his character and professionalism.
He said: “It is with great sadness that I have this afternoon learned of Cheick’s death.
“In the all the time that I have known him, he was a true professional, dedicated and above all, a great man.
“Our hearts go out to his family and friends at such a sad time.”
Tiote moved to St James’ Park from FC Twente in 2010 and made 161 appearances for the Magpies, scoring once – the equaliser when Newcastle recovered from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 with Arsenal in 2011.
He earned 52 caps for Ivory Coast, playing at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, while also helping his country to the African Nations Cup final in 2012, where they lost to Zambia.
Tiote also played for Anderlecht and Roda JC and had made 17 appearances for second-tier Chinese club Beijing Enterprises.