Ivory Coast midfielder Cheick Tiote has died aged after collapsing during a training session in China.
Tiote joined Chinese Super League side Beijing Enterprises in January having spent seven years at St James’s Park.
The 30-year-old was reported to have collapsed at the training ground on Monday and taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
"It is with deep sadness I confirm that Cheick Tiote sadly passed away earlier today after collapsing in training," said spokesman Emanuele Palladino.
"We cannot say any more at the moment and we request that his family's privacy be respected at this difficult time. We ask for all your prayers."
A statement from Beijing Enterprises added: “On 18 June during a training session, Cote D’Ivoire international Cheick Tioté suddenly fainted.
The club rushed him to hospital where he was pronounced dead at 7 o’clock local time. The club has been in contact with its family.”
Tiote had been living on his own in China since January and his wife Madah is expecting their third child this week.
Former Newcastle team-mate Demba Ba, who had a spell in China but now plays for Turkish side Besiktas was among the first to offer his condolences. “May Allah gives grant you jannah brother Tiote,” he tweeted.
Newcastle manager Rafa Benítez added: “It is with great sadness that I have this afternoon learned of Cheick’s death. In the all the time that I have known him, he was a true professional, dedicated and above all, a great man.
Our hearts go out to his family and friends at such a sad time.”
Tiote was born in the Ivory Coast where he began his professional career at FC Bibo
He then migrated to Belgium, joining Anderlecht in 2005 before moving to Dutch side FC Twente, where he made 86 appearances and won the Eredivisie league title in the 2009-10 season under manager Steve McClaren.
He then signed for Newcastle in 2010 for £3.5m.
In 2011, he scored a memorable goal as Newcastle United came back from 4-0 down to draw with Arsenal in the Premier League.
He joined Beijing Enterprises for an undisclosed fee in February 2017.
Tioté also won 52 caps for Ivory Coast and played in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups as well as winning the Africa Cup of Nations in 2015.