News of Cheick Tiote’s sudden death yesterday has shook the footballing world.
At the age of 30, the fitness fanatic, who was said to train obsessionally during his time at Newcastle, collapsed whilst training for new club Beijing Enterprises in China.
Since his passing, heartfelt tributes have been sent in from the whole of NUFC and all who knew him in the world of football, with the heartbreaking news leaving the club in mourning this week.
Tiote’s former Newcastle managers have also paid their respects to Cheick, starting with Rafa Benitez, who had this to say about the late, great Tiote:
“It is with great sadness that I have this afternoon learned of Cheick’s death.”
“In 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.”
Steve Mclaren has also paid tribute to Tiote, describing the man he managed at FC Twente and Newcastle as the “toughest player” he has ever seen:
“He was the kind of player that everyone wants in their team.”
“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.”
“He was a winner. I just can’t believe it.”
“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.”
“It was his dream to play in China and I was so delighted for him when it happened. He earned money to look after his family.”
“He loved playing football to look after his family. All the relatives, uncles, aunts, grandparents, they all relied on him to look after them.”
“At Newcastle if Cisse and Cheick were smiling I knew the world was OK,”
“He had the most beautiful smile in football”.
Alan Pardew, who managed Tiote during his best years at Newcastle, then paid his respects to a man he desrcribes as a ‘giant of a midfielder’ who he ‘loved’ to manage”
“I’m devastated to hear the news about my former player and friend Cheick Tiote.
“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.
“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 in the final moments of that game one of the iconic moments in Premier League history.
“I loved him. He’s everything that you want in a Newcastle player. To hear the news that he has passed away at the age of 30 breaks my heart and my sympathies go out to all his family and friends who will be devastated by this news.”
“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.”
“For what we wanted at the time he was the perfect fit,”
“The perfect and essential midfield player.
“He was a good player, a good passer but he was going to do the ugly part of the game – being competitive in the middle of the park, winning the ball and allowing the players around him to have an affect the game, as he did.
“I remember when he came we had to calm him down a lot of times in training because he was so competitive.
“He trained everyday like he was playing a game and the players very much respected him for that.
“The thing that struck me was how humble he was. It was such a big thing for him to sign for Newcastle.
“I remember speaking to Steve McClaren before we took him and Steve spoke very, very fondly about him, not only as a footballer but as a person and a person that wouldn’t let you down.”
RIP Cheick, gone but never forgotten.