The former Newcastle midfielder Cheick Tioté has died after reportedly suffering a heart attack while training with his club in China.
The Ivory Coast international joined Chinese Super League side Beijing Enterprises in January having spent seven years at St James’s Park. The 30-year-old was reported to have collapsed at the training ground on Monday and taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“I can confirm that my client Cheick Tioté sadly passed away today after collapsing in training with his club Beijing Enterprises,” said his agent Emanuele Palladino in a statement. “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.”
A statement from Beijing Enterprises added: “During a routine training session at 6pm today, Ivory Coast player Cheik 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 Tiote’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. Former Newcastle team-mate Demba Ba, who had a spell in China but now plays for Turkish side Besiktas was among the first to offer his condolences. “May Allah gives grant you jannah brother Tiote,” he tweeted.
“We are devastated to have learnt of the tragic passing of Cheick Tioté at the age of just 30,” said Newcastle in a statement. “The thoughts of everyone at Newcastle United are with Cheick’s family, friends, teammates and everyone connected with the clubs he represented.”
Newcastle manager Rafa Benítez added: “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.”
Tioté began his career in his homeland with FC Bibo before moving to Anderlecht as a teenager. He also played under Steve McClaren at FC Twente in the Netherlands before joining Newcastle in 2010 for £3.5m, going on to make almost 150 appearances. Among the highlights of the tough tackling midfielder’s career at St James’ Park was the equaliser in a 4-4 draw against Arsenal in 2011 when Alan Pardew’s side battled back from 4-0 down to snatch a point.
“Goodnight brother, You will be missed. My heart goes out to his family. Gone too soon #RIPcheiktiote,” wrote former Newcastle team-mate Papiss Cissé.
Tioté also won 52 caps for Ivory Coast and played in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.
A statement from the PFA read: “Desperately sad news that Cheick Tioté has passed away, aged just 30. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and former teammates.”