As the sporting world still comes to terms with the death of Ivorian star Cheik Tiote, back home in Ivory Coast, the sad news dominated the headlines.
In the streets of Abidjan, some residents could not hide their grief as they mourned a fallen hero.
“This death has deeply affected us because Cheik Tiote was a valiant warrior who brought a lot to Ivorain national team,” said a resident.
For the Ivorian football community, Tiote’s demise leaves a gap too huge to be filled. The 30-year old footballer brought international acclaim to his mother land.
“It is a great blow for Ivorian football especially international football because he still had great days ahead in European clubs and he gave a lot for Ivorian football. So this is a great loss for football,” said Didier Ange Junior, a player.
A former Newcastle United midfielder, Tiote died on Monday after collapsing while training with his new Chinese team, Beijing Enterprises.
New to the club, he only had a 3-month stint after spending 7 years with the “Magpies.”
Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez, paid tribute to the former player on the club’s website, recalling that he had grown up in extreme poverty and had owned his first pair of shoes at the age of 15 years.
Despite that, he overcame the odds and become a shinning star in the football world.
He played for his country during the 2010 and 2014 World Cups and made 52 international appearances for “The Elephants.”
Tiote’s death has put the football game into perspective following the deaths of other players such as Cameroonian and former West Ham and Manchester City midfielder, Marc-Vivien Foe in June 2003 and fellow country man 26-year old Patrick Ekeng, who died on the pitch during a match with his Romanian club Dinamo Bucharest, in May 2016.