When rumours began circulating that ex-Newcastle United midfielder Cheick Tiote had passed away in China, football fans were praying they were false.
Sadly, BBC Sport have now confirmed the 30-year-old's tragic death after he collapsed in a Beijing Enterprises training session.
A spokesman said: "It is with deep sadness I confirm that Cheick Tiote sadly passed away earlier today after collapsing in training.
"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."
Tiote's passing has rocked the world of football, with a number of former Newcastle teammates since paying tribute to the Ivorian on Twitter.
Demba Ba was the first to react, writing: "😭😭😭 May Allah gives grant you jannah brother Tiote 😭😭😭."
Ayoze Perez, Papiss Cisse and Tim Krul have also expressed their sadness, with the latter writing: "Deeply sad to hear the news about Cheick.. One of my favourite teammates.. My thoughts are with his family."
Tiote made a name for himself at Newcastle after signing for the Magpies for £3.5 million in 2010, spending seven years at the club.
His greatest moment at St James' Park came against Arsenal in a dramatic 4-4 draw a year later, where he scored a sublime volley to equalise.
Newcastle - who sold Tiote to Beijing Enterprises in February 2017 - have now reacted to the tragedy on Twitter and released a statement (see below).
Their statement read: "The thoughts of everyone at Newcastle United are with Cheick's family, friends, teammates and everyone connected with the clubs he represented.
"The Ivory Coast midfielder, who made more than 150 appearances for the Magpies between 2010 and 2017, was training with his current club, Bejiing Enterprises, on Monday when he collapsed.
"He was taken to hospital but sadly passed away."
Manager Rafa Benitez has also paid homage to Tiote, adding: "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."
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