Hundreds of fans and no fewer than twenty Ivory Coast players were present at Abidjan airport on Thursday to pay their respects as the body of football star Cheick Tiote, who died in China earlier this month aged 30, was brought home.
Tiote, 30, collapsed and died on June 5 during training with his Chinese club Beijing Enterprises.
Tiote was a key member of the Ivory Coast team which ended a 23-year drought in winning the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
His manager during the triumph, Herve Renard, made the trip as well as teammates Salomon Kalou, Kader Keita and Wilfried Bony.
Tiote, a 52-time capped player, who was at the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, will be honoured with a military funeral on Sunday.
The forward moved to China in February from England’s Newcastle United.
He began his European club career with Belgian outfit Anderlecht and had a loan spell at Roda JC Kerkrade before moving to FC Twente in 2008.
Tiote signed for Newcastle in 2010 and made 156 appearances for the club, becoming a firm favourite with fans.