Former Newcastle United midfielder Cheick Tiote has died aged 30 after collapsing during training in China, a spokesman for the player has announced.
In his seven years at United the Ivory Coast player made over 150 appearances, including three last season.
He joined Chinese second-tier side Beijing Enterprises in February.
“It is with deep sadness I confirm that Cheick Tiote sadly passed away earlier today after collapsing in training,” said spokesman Emanuele Palladino.
“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.”
Born in the Ivory Coast, Tiote was part of the Ivorian squad that won the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
He began his professional career in Belgium with Anderlecht in 2005 before moving to Dutch side FC Twente, where he made 86 appearances and won the Eredivisie league title in the 2009-10 season under manager Steve McClaren.
Tiote, a defensive midfielder, then signed for Newcastle in 2010 for £3.5m.
In 2011, he scored a memorable goal as Newcastle United came back from 4-0 down to draw with Arsenal in the Premier League.
He joined Beijing Enterprises for an undisclosed fee in February 2017.
‘A true professional and above all a great man’
A statement from Newcastle said:
“We are devastated to have learnt of the tragic passing of Cheick Tiote 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.”
Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez said: “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.”
Tributes on social media
Even more tragically am told Cheick Tioté's wife is expecting a baby this week #rip
— Ed Aarons (@ed_aarons) June 5, 2017
— Héctor Bellerín (@HectorBellerin) June 5, 2017
The thoughts of everyone at Arsenal are with the loved ones of Cheick Tiote
May he rest in peace pic.twitter.com/zEo5FF5lcE
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) June 5, 2017
Rest in peace, Cheick Tioté. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family. pic.twitter.com/X2u4tZ2Y3I
— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) June 5, 2017
Rest in peace, Cheick Tioté – our condolences are with his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/F6FvoNkna1
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) June 5, 2017