Tributes to Cheick Tiote continued to pour in a day after it was announced that the 30-year-old Ivorian national died while training on Monday. For example, former Newcastle United manager Steve McClaren called Tiote the “toughest player” he’s ever seen, but also a man who owned “the most beautiful smile in football”. “He was the kind of player that everyone wants in their team,” McClaren said in an interview with BBC 5. McClaren was one of the men that knew the Ivorian the longest, as he also managed Tiote at an earlier stop in the Netherlands with FC Twente. “On the field and in training, he was such a competitor. He wanted to win every game, kick every player and win every tackle… Some days we would have to pull him out of training because he was such a ferocious competitor, such a winner. He was a warrior and could play too.”
Another late tribute to the Ivorian came from another former Newcastle manager, Alan Pardew. He called Tiote “a wonderful presence around the dressing room and his performances on the field often defied belief.” Pardew was at the helm the day Tiote finished off a four-goal comeback by Newcastle against Arsenal in the most memorable match of Tiote’s career. “Life is not fair sometimes and I will remember Cheick Tiote as a giant of a midfielder who I loved to manage. Rest in peace my friend,” Pardew said.
Tiote joined Chinese club Beijing Enterprises in February after making 156 appearances in seven seasons with Newcastle, including three in his final season with the team. According to McClaren, it was known that Tiote wanted to play in China in an effort to make enough money to “look after his family”. Tiote was taken to the hospital after he collapsed at Beijing Enterprises’ training ground, but he died once he arrived at the medical facility.