As the remains of Ivorian footballer, Cheick Tiote arrives Port Bouet Airport in Abidjan, the capital of his native Ivory Coast, Wilfried Bony was among the pallbearers on Thursday afternoon.
The Manchester City forward and other former teammates of Tiote’s with the Ivory Coast national team carried the casket on their shoulders after being flown from Beijing where he tragically passed away.
Family members displayed their grief as Tiote’s coffin was carried through the airport, where fans also came to pay their respects.
Tiote suffered a suspected heart attack on June 5 during a training session with his club Beijing Enterprises and later passed away.
There was a memorial service for him held in Beijing on Tuesday which was attended by his ex-Newcastle team-mate Papiss Cisse, who plays in China with Shandong Luneng.
‘I lived some extraordinary moments with this man and today he’s gone,’ said Cisse at the service as he fought back tears.
Beijing Enterprises players were also present at that service as they paid their respects to Tiote, who joined them from Newcastle in February.
Sportsmail revealed earlier this week that Beijing Enterprises had no emergency cardiac equipment at their training base which which to treat him.
And Manchester United legend Andy Cole questioned whether more can be done to protect players who suffer from heart problems.
‘If someone is only 30 and they pass away, the question that is naturally going to be asked is ‘Why? What’s gone on there? Why has he passed away so early?’, Cole said to BBC Radio Five Live.
‘It’s a strange one. Cheick Tiote hadn’t been in China that long – a few months – so he must have had a medical to complete the transfer. Was nothing picked up in that medical?
‘Is anything actually being done? Is it being looked into? We need to nail it down and get to the bottom of why and what it is.
‘Because it seems to be happening to more and more professional footballers – fit, strong men.’
Tiote spent seven years at Newcastle and is best remembered for scoring a stunning equaliser in the 4-4 draw against Arsenal in February 2011.
He also featured for Anderlecht, Twente and made 55 appearances for the Ivory Coast senior side, winning the Africa Cup of Nations in 2015.