Newcastle United's new signing Cheik Tiote has revealed that his compatriot Didier Drogba advised him to come to England to further his football education.
The 24-year-old Ivory Coast international, who played every minute of his country's World Cup finals campaign in South Africa during the summer, joined the Magpies during the transfer window after his Chelsea counterpart had sold the Premier League to him.
Midfielder Tiote, who joins compatriots Drogba, Kolo and Yaya Touré, Salomon Kalou and Emmanuel Eboué in the Premier League, told the club's official website: "He [Drogba] is someone I know well. I have learnt a lot from him, he's a great guy. It was him who suggested to me that I come and play football in England.
"The English league is very well known over there. I think it is a sign of the quality of the Cote d'Ivoire players that there are so many of them playing in England.
"I know them all well and I have seen a few of them already since arriving."
Tiote was an unused substitute as the Magpies' 26-game unbeaten home run was brought to an end by Blackpool on Saturday, a disappointing result after their previous game at St James' Park had seen them put six past Aston Villa without reply.
However, he saw enough to get a flavour of English football and whet his appetite for what is to follow. Tiote said: "It is different here. The fans seem to be so passionate and I have heard a lot about them.
"There were nearly 50,000 here for the Blackpool game, which is amazing. The club is very professional, and I'm very happy here. For me, Newcastle is perfect. Firstly, it is a club I love, and it is a big club. It isn't a small team – it's Newcastle, you know? I know the history of the club well."
Tiote is currently brushing up on his English as he gets to grips with life in a new country, although working under an English-speaking coach represents few problems for him.
He was part of the FC Twente squad which won the Dutch title under former England manager Steve McClaren last season, and then spent the summer working with McClaren's predecessor, Swede Sven Goran Eriksson, at the World Cup.
Tiote said: "The language is no problem. I cope fine with the terminology of football, it's not a problem at all.
"Steve McClaren is a real coach. Players work hard for him and I think that experience will be helpful for me here at Newcastle.
"I do think English coaches have a different approach to the game and they expect a different work ethic."Reuse content