The man from Ivory Coast

Cheick Tiote has proved to be a shrewd acquisition for Newcastle, building on a superb first season at the club with some outstanding displays in the current campaign. Over to Pete Thompson.

When Cheick Tiote joined Newcastle in the summer of 2010 he was something of an unknown quantity but he has fast become one of the most sought after players in the Barclays English Premier League.

Fresh from representing the Ivory Coast in the World Cup in South Africa, the combative midfielder made a GBP3.5million move from Dutch champions FC Twente to St. James' Park and he has never looked back.

The then Newcastle boss, Chris Hughton, secured the signing of 25-year-old Tiote and he has proved to be a shrewd acquisition, building on a superb first season at the club with some outstanding displays in the current campaign.

Hughton said after signing Tiote: “Cheick is a terrific signing for us and I am sure he will prove to be an excellent addition to the squad. He has a first-class pedigree and I think his game is well suited to the Premier League. He did well with the Ivory Coast in the World Cup and is just reaching an age where his best years are now ahead of him.”

Hughton had clearly done his homework on Tiote, whose career really took off when he joined Dutch club Twente.

Born in Yamoussoukro, the capital of the Ivory Coast, Tiote first started playing football in the street before beginning his career with Ivorian minor league side FC Bibo. He soon caught the eye of Anderlecht and got his break with a move to the Belgian giants in 2005.

Tiote made his debut in the Belgian Cup and missed a penalty as his side were knocked out by Geel. He was then loaned out to Dutch club Roda JC for the 2007-08 campaign and made 26 appearances, scoring twice. During his time with Roda, the all-action midfielder's form alerted Twente and they secured a permanent deal to sign him in October 2008. At Twente he became a key player as the Dutch club were crowned Eredivisie champions for the first time in their history under the guidance of former England boss Steve McClaren.

He also gained the experience of playing in the UEFA Champions League and the Europa League at Twente and after getting the chance to play in his first World Cup in South Africa, Tiote was on the move again.

Newcastle was his next destination and it quickly became apparent that his game was ideally suited to the EPL. Tiote shone on his debut against Everton and the highlight of his impressive first season in England was his only goal for the club so far, a stunning long-range strike to secure a 4-4 draw against Arsenal.

Such was the impact that Tiote made in his first season in the EPL that he was linked with big-money moves away from St. James' Park, but he signed a new six-and-a-half year deal last February. Newcastle were tipped by many pundits to struggle this season, but they have exceeded expectations.

Tiote and his Magpies team-mate Demba Ba have been two of the star performers for Alan Pardew's side, and Tiote marked his final appearance before heading to the African Cup of Nations with an outstanding display in a 3-0 win against Manchester United.

Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea are among the clubs reported to be interested in signing Tiote, but Pardew is determined to keep hold of him.

“Cheick's a big target because he's a great player and great players are always going to be targets,” acknowledged Pardew. “We are always on our guard with Cheick because we realise how very, very important he is to us but you never know with the window. It's such a minefield of possibilities.”

Newcastle fans reacted angrily to the departures of Andy Carroll, Kevin Nolan and Jose Enrique in the last year and if Tiote was to follow they would undoubtedly be voicing their disapproval once again.

It appears unlikely Tiote will leave St. James' Park this season but if he maintains the form he has produced in recent weeks, then the sky is the limit for the Ivory Coast star.

Tiote is married and has a child.

It is not known what Tiote is currently driving, but he has been spotted in a BMX X6 during his time at Newcastle.

FACTFILE Name: Cheick Tiote Position: Midfielder Club: Newcastle D.O.B: 21/06/86 Ivory Coast caps: 21 Ivory Coast goals: 0 Moment to remember

Scoring with a stunning long-range strike to complete a remarkable comeback from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 with Arsenal last February.

Moment to forget

Being shown a red card in Newcastle's humiliating FA Cup defeat at Stevenage last season.

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