ABIDJAN (Ivory Coast) • Ivory Coast international Cheick Tiote, whose sudden death in China at just 30 years old shocked his country, was laid to rest on Sunday as he was hailed a "worthy son" of the African nation.
Tiote, a 52-cap international footballer who featured at the 2010 and 2014 World Cup Finals, was honoured with a military funeral at the Williamsville cemetery in Abidjan where hundreds of people gathered to mourn.
"Ivory Coast has lost a worthy son who served so bravely, who fought to win and who gave everything on the pitch," said sports minister Francois Amichia.
Tiote died from a heart attack on June 5 during a training session with his Chinese League One club Beijing Enterprises.
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Full military honours were bestowed on Tiote at the funeral service which was attended by Ivory Coast Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly as well as several members of the government, Ivorian football federation officials and players.
Tiote's coffin was draped in the country's orange, white and green flag before being taken to a mosque in the upmarket district of Riviera Golf where prayers were held.
"It's a huge loss for Ivorian and African football," said former national team goalkeeper Boubacar Barry, who played with Tiote in the victorious 2015 Africa Cup of Nations side.
"It's a big loss because he was such a warrior on the pitch. I present my condolences to his family and his friends. Thank you Tiote, thank you."
Tiote began his European club career with Belgian outfit Anderlecht before moving to Dutch Eredivisie side FC Twente in 2008.
He signed for English Premier League team Newcastle in 2010 and made 156 appearances for the club, becoming a firm favourite with fans over his six years in England.