The family of tragic soccer star Cheick Tiote is set for a complex legal wrangle over his estimated £10 million fortune.
The former Newcastle United star had two wives, a mistress and around 50 brothers and sisters .
It is believed the popular star, who died aged 30 after a suspected heart attack while training in China, did not leave a will.
His heartbroken first wife Madah Tiote is believed to be expecting their third child.
He wed second wife Laeticia Doukrou in a traditional ceremony in his native Ivory Coast in 2014. His father was also a polygamist, and had eight wives. Tiote was one of nine full brothers and sisters born to the same mum. Cheick also had dozens of half brothers and sisters.
The former £60,000-a-week midfielder also had a three-year-old child with Zimbabwean Nkosiphile Mpofu, 33, also known as Nikki.
Now, his fortune and assets may have to shared between his surviving relatives by his legal representatives.
A source close to the player, who earned around £14million during his time in English football before his lucrative move to China in February, said: “Cheick died so young. I would be shocked if he had a will at 30. He was one of nine children, and he had about 50 half brothers and sisters.
“He was very generous during his lifetime, and he would send a lot of money back home for his family.
“But it is hard to know how his assets will be sorted between his surviving wives, children and other relatives.”
Tiote’s body was flown back to the Ivory Coast for his funeral after current and former team-mates gathered for an emotional memorial service in China.
Ex-Newcastle Utd team-mate Papiss Cisse wept at the ceremony in Beijing, before Tiote’s body was taken back to Ivory Coast ahead of a private funeral.
“I lived some extraordinary moments with this man and now he is gone,” said Senegal striker Cisse, who spent four years at Newcastle with Tiote.
“He was like a brother. We shared a lot in life. His family was my family.”
Relatives of the Beijing Enterprises star, and his agent Emanuele Palladino, flew out to China following the shock announcement of his collapse on June 4.
His death sent shock-waves around the football world and prompted a tide of tributes, notably from managers Steve McClaren and Alan Pardew.
Mr Palladino said: “There is increasing speculation regarding the circumstances and reasons behind Cheick Tiote’s death, with many inaccuracies being printed on this subject. This has been upsetting for Cheick’s family and all parties involved at what is already a difficult time.
“We appreciate Cheick was a much-loved personality. His club Beijing Enterprises are being co-operative at this time, and when we have official information surrounding his death we will give a statement on behalf of his family.
“Until then we cannot comment further, however we thank you for all your continued support and well wishes.”
He declined to comment on whether Tiote left a will, saying it was a ‘private’ matter.