Steve McClaren says Cheick Tiote was the toughest player ever

Steve McClaren says Cheick Tiote was the toughest player ever

by Phumzile Ngcatshe

Wednesday Jun 07, 2017. 09:00

Ex-Newcastle United manager Steve McClaren says he will miss midfielder Cheick Tiote following the midfielder's passing on Monday.

The Cote d'Ivoire legend passed away on Monday during training with his Chinese club, Beijing Enterprises.

McClaren has told the BBC that the 30-year-old was the toughest player he has ever seen, but also a man with the most beautiful smile in football.

The ex-Magpies boss paid tribute after Tiote collapsed and died in China after training on Monday.

"At Newcastle if (Papiss) Cisse and Cheick were smiling I knew the world was OK," McClaren told BBC 5 live.

"He was the kind of player that everyone wants in their team."

The 2015 CAF Africa Cup of Nations winner with the Elephants, joined Chinese second-tier side Enterprises from Newcastle in February this year.

Reports indicate he died in hospital after collapsing at the club's training ground,

He made 159 appearances in his seven-year stay at Newcastle.

McClaren coached Tiote at Dutch giants, FC Twente and at Newcastle, and adds that the Ivoirean was a winner.

"I knew him first as a young player at Twente. He was the toughest player I've ever seen,” adds the manager.

"On the field and in training he was such a competitor. He wanted to win every game, kick every player and win every tackle.

"He was a winner. I just can't believe it.

"Some days we would have to pull him out of training because he was such a ferocious competitor, such a winner. He was a warrior and could play too.

"It was his dream to play in China and I was so delighted for him when it happened. He earned money to look after his family.

"He loved playing football to look after his family. All the relatives, uncles, aunts, grandparents, they all relied on him to look after them."

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