Cheick Tiote, a former Newcastle and Ivory Coast midfielder, has died after collapsing in training with a Chinese team. He was 30.
Tiote was four months into a new career at Beijing Enterprises when his death was announced on Monday by agent Emanuele Palladino.
“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,” Tiote’s spokesman Emanuele Palladino said.
“We cannot say any more at the moment and we request that his family’s privacy be respected at this difficult time,” Palladino said. “We ask for all your prayers.”
“It is with great sadness that I have this afternoon learned of Cheick’s death,” Benitez told the Newcastle website. “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 Newcastle from FC Twente in 2010 and made 161 appearances, scoring once — a memorable equalizer in 2011 when his team recovered from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 with Arsenal.
Rafa Benitez, Tiote’s former manager at Newcastle, paid tribute to his character.
“In all the time that I have known him, he was a true professional, dedicated and, above all, a great man,” Benitez said. “Our hearts go out to his family and friends at such a sad time.”
Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany, who played with Tiote at Dutch club Anderlecht, tweeted: “Cheick Tiote was one of the nicest and toughest teammates I have ever had.”