Veteran striker Didier Drogba has taken the opportunity to dedicate his debut win and goal for new side Phoenix Rising to his fellow Ivory Coast countryman Cheick Tioté, who tragically passed away after collapsing during a training session for Beijing Enterprises on Monday.
As reported by Give Me Sport, the former Chelsea striker took to Instagram after the match to pay tribute to his former international teammate, announcing:
“New chapter, new Team, new friends, the game is still beautiful @phxrisingfc. I wanna dedicate this win to @tiote_official who passed away a few days ago while doing what he loved, playing football. My thoughts and condolences to his family”.
Tioté’s sudden death sent shockwaves through the footballing world, who were stunned to hear the news that the 30-year-old had suffered a heart attack.
The player plied his trade with Premier League side Newcastle United for seven years, making 156 appearances for the Toon. The player then moved to China in January 2017, joining second division side Beijing Enterprises.
The player was capped on 55 occasions for the Ivory Coast, and represented the side at both the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.
Tioté, a defensive midfielder, scored one goal for the club; but it was one of the greatest goals in the club’s history, seeing him smash home a 25-yard volley to seal the Magpies a famous 4-4 comeback draw against Arsenal, to the fan’s delight.
Rest In Peace Tioté, we were sad when you scored this world class goal against us but we are even more devasted today from your passing… pic.twitter.com/GDm4qhgrbT
— Arsenal (@Arsenalgorithms) 5 June 2017
Didier Drogba’s tribute to his former international teammate came as he made his debut for the side he also shares part-ownership of.
Famous for dragging Chelsea back into the 2012 Champions League Final against Bayern Munich with a late goal and a winning penalty, the Blues legend is determined to build a new legacy with Phoenix Rising, who were formed in 2014.
The second-tier side has ambitions of progressing to the MLS, and also have fellow ex-Chelsea player Shaun Wright-Phillips on their books.
Drogba has played for a host of sides since leaving Chelsea in 2012, including Shanghai Shenhua, Galatasaray and Montreal Impact. The player also returned to Chelsea briefly in 2014, but failed to recapture his previous form.