Didier Drogba pays tribute to Cheick Tiote after scoring on Phoenix Rising debut

Vancouver Whitecaps II v Phoenix Rising FC

Phoenix Rising made a huge deal about Didier Drogba’s debut for the club.

The United Soccer League club changed their cover photo on Twitter to an image of Drogba next to a headline that reads, in bold letters: “He’s ready. Drogba’s debut.”

The former Chelsea striker signed for Phoenix in April but not just as a player, but as an owner, too.

So it’s no surprise a great deal of attention was paid to his highly-anticipated debut.

And it was worth the wait. Drogba scored and provided an assist as the Rising earned a 2-1 win over Vancouver Whitecaps 2.

Drogba’s goal - a powerful header at the back post - was just trademark Drogba.

Watch: Drogba scores on Phoenix debut

He then teed up former Chelsea and Manchester City man Shaun Wright-Phillips to score the winner.

Watch: Drogba assists Wright-Phillips

New club, same results. Even at the age of 39 you get the feeling that the USL might just be a little too easy for Drogba.

Drogba dedicated the win to Tiote

After the match, the Ivorian dedicated Phoenix’s win to Cheick Tiote, who sadly passed away on Monday after collapsing during a training session with Chinese club Beijing Enterprises.

“New chapter, new Team, new friends, the game is still beautiful @phxrisingfc,” Drogba wrote on Instagram.

“I wanna dedicate this win to @tiote_official who passed away few days ago while doing what he loved, playing football. My thoughts and condolences to his family.”

Check out Drogba’s Instagram post below.

Pardew's tribute to Tiote

Tiote’s death stunned the football world. He was only 30 when he suffered a heart attack in China.

Alan Pardew, who managed Tiote at Newcastle United, paid a heartfelt tribute to the Ivorian, who became a legend on Tyneside when he scored that late equaliser against Arsenal in 2011.

"I'm devastated to hear the news about my former player and friend Cheick Tiote,” Pardew said in a statement.

"From the moment I arrived at Newcastle, Cheick was a wonderful presence around the dressing room and his performances on the field often defied belief.

"None of us will ever forget that incredible day when our Newcastle team came from 4-0 down to draw an unbelievable Premier League game against Arsenal, with Cheick's incredible goal in the final moments of that game one of the iconic moments in Premier League history.

"I loved him. He's everything that you want in a Newcastle player. To hear the news that he has passed away at the age of 30 breaks my heart and my sympathies go out to all his family and friends who will be devastated by this news."

Where does Tiote's goal rank among the Premier League's greatest moments? Let us know in the comments section below!

News Now - Sport News