I wanted to take today’s blogpost and remember Cheick Tiote, a beast of a central midfielder who made his name through combative battles while wearing the black and white stripes of Newcastle United.
Tiote played like a lion covering more ground than most other midfielders and never shying away from a tackle. He was engrossed in the game so much so that he was close to tears on many occasions – the man wore his heart on his sleeve.
One Tiote moment particularly stands out in my memory. Arsenal, my team, were beating Newcastle 4-0 at St. James Park in February of 2011 and we were singing our way to victory at the local pub. Newcastle staged the most unbelievable of comebacks to get within one. They had a free-kick from the right hand-side of the 18 yard box which was headed out but only as far as the hammer left foot of Tiote who struck the most wondrous of volley’s past an outstretched Wojciech Szczesny to tie the game at four. We were shattered as Tiote ran the full length of the pitch in jubilation while the commentator screamed ‘Boom Boom Cheick the Room!’ – it was one of the most magical moments in Premier League history.
Yesterday, Tiote died of a heart attack while training with his new club Beijing Enterprises. He was 30 years old.
Quoted as having ‘the most beautiful smile in football’ by former manager Steve MccLaren, Tiote will be fondly remembered by teammates and opposition alike as a true gentleman who fought tooth and nail for his band of brothers.
RIP Cheick - the football fraternity looks up to you in honour.