A Legend in the making
By Jamie Orrell
Wednesday 13 Jul 2011 09:32:00
Browse all Jamie Orrell articles


On 25th February Cheik Tiote signed a six and a half year deal at Newcastle seeing off interest from Europe’s elite clubs. Amazingly, less than 10 years ago he was still playing barefoot on the streets in Africa.


Tiote arrived on Tyneside to an indifferent reaction from the Geordie public. Just seven months later he has emerged as a vital cog in the black and white machine.


It was at the Emirates when Newcastle really found out they had a player on their hands. The Magpies had a game plan to overpower the Arsenal backline with Andy Carroll latching onto Joey Barton’s floated crosses. Just one problem; how could Newcastle keep Arsenal at bay? The answer… Cheik Tiote.


The Ivorian was brilliant running the show in the middle of the park, snapping in to tackles, holding off messrs Fabregas, Song and Wilshere. Tiote looked battery powered, surging around the pitch in his combative style. Even when he didn’t get the ball, which was a rarity, Tiote took the man. Newcastle of course won the game 1-0 and since then Tiote has gone from strength to strength, especially away from St James Park. The Premier League had a new star.


More lung busting displays at Man City, West Ham and Wigan cemented Tiote’s place in Newcastle’s midfield. His first goal for the Magpies will be remembered forever. Of course it was the stunning volley to complete the Premier League’s greatest ever comeback against Arsenal at St James Park. Tiote’s journey to the top has been eventful to say the least.


Already a black and white fan, Tiote grew up playing without footwear on the streets of Yamooussoukro supporting Juventus.  He left the Ivory Coast capital for Abidjan aged 15 with his family in a bid to become a professional footballer. Tiote joined Bibo FC, a local amateur side and for the first time played in trainers and organised matches. The youngster spent four years at Bibo before he eventually earned his big move to Europe. Aged 19, Tiote became the latest in a long list of Ivorians to move to Belgium when he joined Anderlecht. However, his time in Brussels was far from happy. On his debut Tiote missed a penalty in a shoot out that eliminated Anderlecht from the Belgian Cup against minnows Geel. Tiote was far more successful during a loan stint in Holland at Roda JC. His impact in the Eredivise was noticed by former England manager Steve McClaren and on the 2nd of October 2008 Tiote joined FC Twente for a fee reported to be around €750,000.


At the De Grolsch Veste Tiote’s career really took off. He quickly became the most combative midfielder in the Dutch league contributing one goal and 14 assists in his time at Twente. In 2010 Twente won the title ahead of typical Dutch powerhouses Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Feyernoord. The achievement earned McClaren a move to Wolfsburg and Tiote a starting berth in the Ivory Coast’s World Cup team. It was in South Africa


playing alongside his hero Didier Drogba, that Tiote attracted interest from a host of English clubs including West Brom. The midfielder destroyer showed his eye for a tackle at the tournament; smashing Brazil’s Elano in a group game. Tiote was working under another former England boss with Sven Goran Eriksson being named Ivory Coast manager just before the tournament. However it was a disappointing tournament for The Elephants who bowed out in the group stage.


On the advice of Graham Carr Newcastle grabbed Tiote from under the noses of West Brom for a fee of £3.5m. He made his debut in the away win at Everton where fellow new signing Hatem Ben Arfa stole the headlines. Tiote starred in the 5-1 derby triumph before that awesome display at the Emirates securing Tiote’s position as a honourary Geordie.


After the Andy Carroll saga many Newcastle fans feared the worst when Chelsea and Man Utd came sniffing. However Tiote penned a new six and a half year deal reported to be worth £50k a week. It was widely reported Tiote snubbed interest from Chelsea to stay on Tyneside, hopefully for the long term.

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