Cheick Tiote tributes pour in; Hard-nosed midfielder mourned

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Few people enjoyed playing against combative Ivorian midfielder Cheick Tiote, but the longtime Newcastle United midfielder was respected by many.

Tiote, 30, passed away Monday after collapsing during a training session with Chinese side Beijing Enterprises.

The 2015 Africa Cup of Nations winner also played with Twente and Anderlecht, and was especially beloved amongst his ex-Newcastle teammates.

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Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez praised Tiote as “a true professional, dedicated, talented, and above all, a great man.”

Ex-NUFC boss Alan Pardew was particularly stung by Tiote’s death, and honored “a giant of a midfielder.”