21 Jun 1986
Where do we start with Cheick Tiote?!
For most Newcastle fans, certainly for anyone who watched the side in 2011, just reading his name out load will force you to shout "Tioteeeeeeee......"
For his 87th minute equaliser against Arsene Wenger's Arsenal side, having been dead and buried at 4-0 down at half time, is one of those goals that transcend not just a season but almost any football game seen at St James Park in modern times. The free kick from Barton, the Arsenal clearance, the 26 yard first time volley for his one and only goal in a Newcastle United shirt. Scenes. Limbs. Ecstasy. From fans to players and staff alike. A moment to treasure to a wonderful player, a great character and a man taken from the world far too soon.
The number 24 joined in August of 2010 for £3.5m. You could tell from the start he was going to be a fans favourite. His combative style, his grit and determination contrasting the guile and panache of his midfield partner Cabaye, but just as essential to his team.
He would have the odd rash moment, but that would only further the fans love for the man (25 yellows in 50 games in his first two season was a decent return). He was also sent off in the Derby game for a rash challenge on Stephen Fletcher. Off the field too he would be something of an icon. In one photo he was pictured with an open Champaign bottle at the wheel of his Range Rover when back in the Ivory Coast.
But is was his infections dynamic on the field attitude that would drive such affection for the player.
Tiote would wear the armband on occasions (when Colo or Cabaye weren't playing). He would also take a stance against betting sponsors, refusing to wear a Newcastle shirt with the betting firm Wonga as the main sponsors as it was against his beliefs.
After leaving Newcastle United for China tragedy struck when Tiote had a fatal heart attack during training with his club Beijing Enterprises Group. Beijing retired his number 24 shirt and he was honoured with a military funeral in his native Ivory Coast, for whom he'd played 55 times.
Somewhat fittingly Cheick's son was at St James Park on the dawn of a new era for the club following the Amanda Staveley led Saudi takeover of the club. His visit to Newcastle marked with a touching moment captured for posterity with the young man reaching up to point at his fathers name on the wall plate outside the ground.
Gone, but never forgotten. RIP Cheick.