Fans petition to retire Tiote's Newcastle number

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Ivory Coast worldwide Cheick Tiote "suddenly fainted" at training and died later in hospital, his Chinese club said on Tuesday, as tributes flooded in for the player.

Tiote who spent seven years at the Tyneside club with 150 appearances, including three last season, joined Chinese second-tier side, Beijing Enterprises, in February.

Former Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill has paid tribute to Cheick Tiote after the former Newcastle United midfielder's tragic death.

"You come over to Europe and you have everything - you are given everything", Tiote said in a 2011 interview with Newcastle's Evening Chronicle newspaper.

Tiote turned himself into a cult hero during his time at Newcastle, thanks in the main to a stunning equaliser in a 4-4 draw with Arsenal. Tiote also made his worldwide breakthrough and featured in all the Ivory Coast's World Cup games in South Africa in 2010.

Tiote, a defensive midfielder, then signed for Newcastle in 2010 for £3.5m.

"Beijing Enterprises football club expresses its deep sorrow and profound condolences for Mr Tioté's untimely death". Rest in peace Cheiky" and "What do I tell our son Cheiky?

Tiote arrived at Newcastle in 2010, becoming a key member of the first team during the Toon's European march in 2011/12. In the all the time that I have known him, he was a true professional, dedicated and above all, a great man.

"It was his dream to play in China and I was so delighted for him when it happened", said McClaren.

He may not have been as popular as Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, but any football fan would know - or at least heard - of Cheick Tiote.

Ivory Coast team-mate Gervinho, who plays for China's Hebei China Fortune, described Tiote as a "warrior" and a "champion".

Republic defender and Brighton defender Shane Duffy, who underwent life-saving surgery in May 2010 after suffering a lacerated liver in a freak training-ground accident, sent his best wishes to Tiote's friends and family. "Gone too soon #RIPcheiktiote".

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