LONDON • Former Newcastle midfielder Cheick Tiote has died after reportedly suffering a heart attack while training with his club in China.
The Ivory Coast international joined second-tier China League One side Beijing Enterprises in January, having spent seven years at St James' Park.
The 30-year-old was reported to have collapsed at the training ground on Monday, and was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
"I can confirm that my client Cheick Tiote sadly passed away today after collapsing in training with his club Beijing Enterprises," said his agent Emanuele Palladino in a statement.
"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."
A statement from Beijing Enterprises added: "During a training session, Ivory Coast international Cheick Tiote suddenly fainted.
"The club rushed him to hospital where he was pronounced dead at 7pm local time. The club has been in contact with his family."
It is understood that Tiote has been living in China on his own since leaving Newcastle, and his wife Madah is expecting their third child this week.
Former Newcastle team-mate Demba Ba, who had a spell in China but now plays for Turkish side Besiktas, was among the first to offer his condolences. "May Allah gives grant you jannah brother Tiote," he tweeted.
Tiote began his career in his homeland with FC Bibo before moving to Anderlecht as a teenager. He also played at Eredivise side FC Twente before joining Newcastle in 2010 for £3.5 million (S$6.2 million), going on to make almost 150 appearances for the Magpies.
He also won 52 caps for Ivory Coast and won the African Nations Cup with them in 2015 although he missed the final through injury. Tiote also played in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS