Former Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew has been left "devastated" by the sudden death of Cheick Tiote, who collapsed during a training session with Chinese club Beijing Enterprises.
Ivory Coast international Tiote played under Pardew for four years at St James' Park, helping the club to finish fifth in the Premier League in the 2011-12 campaign.
Tiote made over 150 appearances in his six and a half years at Newcastle and Pardew made an emotional statement after the midfielder's death on Monday.
"I am devastated to hear the news about my former player and friend Cheick Tiote," said Pardew. "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.
"There were days when he must have covered every blade of grass on a football field and it didn't surprise me that clubs like Manchester United were being linked with attempts to sign him.
"None of us will ever forget that incredible day when our Newcastle team came from 4-0 down to draw an unbelievable game against Arsenal with Cheick's goal in the final moments of that game one of the most iconic in Premier League history.
We'll never forget you, Cheick. June 5, 2017
"I loved him. He was everything that you want in a Newcastle player. He had the quality, and of course you'll never underestimate the fact that he wants to win. I just loved that he was a winner. It can overcome so many obstacles as a footballer. Young players could take a big leaf out of his book in terms of how he approaches training and games and he was a special young man.
"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."
Tiote's previous clubs included Anderlecht, Roda JC and Twente, while he helped Ivory Coast to win the African Nations Cup in 2015.
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