Tributes to the man with ‘the most beautiful smile in football’

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THE FOOTBALL world was in a state of shock last Monday, when news broke of the death of 30 year old Chiek Tiote.

Tributes flooded in from previous managers and fellow players, for the former Newcastle United midfielder, who died after reportedly suffering a heart attack while training with his club in China.

An Ivory Coast international, Tiote joined the Chinese League One side Beijing Enterprises in January having spent seven years at St James’ Park.

He was reported to have collapsed at the training ground on Monday and been taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A statement from Beijing Enterprises added: “During a routine training session at 6pm today, Ivory Coast player Cheick Tioté suddenly fainted and the club immediately rushed him to hospital, but unfortunately efforts to save him failed and he passed away at 7pm.

The player’s relatives have been informed. Beijing Enterprises football club expresses its deep sorrow and profound condolences for Mr Tioté’s untimely death.”

It is understood that Tioté has been living in China on his own since leaving the north-east in January and his wife Madah is expecting their third child this week.

His former manager at Newcastle, Alan Pardew, said he was devastated by the news.

“From the moment I arrived at Newcastle Cheick was a wonderful presence around the dressing room and his performances on the field often defied belief,” said Pardew.

“There were days when he must have covered every blade of grass on a football field.

“None of us will ever forget that incredible day when our Newcastle team came from 4-0 down to draw an unbelievable Premier League game against Arsenal, with Cheick’s incredible goal. I loved him. He was everything that you want in a Newcastle player. Life is not fair sometimes and I will remember Cheick Tioté as a giant of a midfielder whom I loved to manage.”

Newcastle released a statement which read: “We are devastated to have learnt of the tragic passing of Cheick Tioté at the age of just 30. The thoughts of everyone at Newcastle United are with Cheick’s family, friends, team-mates and everyone connected with the clubs he represented.”

“Cheick was one of the best we had in terms of his attitude,” Newcastle legend Peter Beardsley told BBC Radio 5 live.

“He was also really funny in the dressing room. He had a brilliant smile and he lit up a room when he smiled. He was fantastic.”

Former England boss Steve McClaren, who was his manager at both Dutch side FC Twente and Newcastle, added: “I knew him first as a young player at Twente. He was the toughest player I’ve ever seen.

“On the field and in training he was such a competitor. He wanted to win every game, kick every player and win every tackle.

Adding that Tiote “Had the most beautiful smile in football.”

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