By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
He spent the formative years of his footballing career in Belgium and Cheick Tiote has warned his Newcastle United team-mates that current Jupiler Pro League leaders Club Brugge represent a real challenge to the Magpies' Europa League credentials.
The Ivorian midfielder was signed by Anderlecht, the country's most successful team, in 2005 and spent three seasons with Les Mauves - Brugge's main rivals - before moving to Holland, where he really made his name.
It was his big break as he was plucked from FC Bibo, a semi-professional outfit in Tiote's hometown of Yamoussoukro and, although he played only four league games before spending a season on loan with Roda JC in the Netherlands, it helped to shape him as a player.
And he believes Newcastle will have to produce a performance of the same level which saw off Bordeaux in their last European tie if they are to gain three points which will keep them top of Group D and put them in pole position to qualify for the next stage.
"I came straight from Africa to Belgium," he explained while speaking to nufc.co.uk on the eve of a match which he is expected to start, as his ban from the red card he received at Sunderland last weekend does not apply to continental competition.
"They had some scouts from Belgium who went to watch my team there. They saw me and they signed me for one year, and they had an option on my contract so I spent three years in Belgium.
"But I didn't play too much so I decided to go on loan to Holland. I played there for one year and after that I signed for FC Twente.
"I didn't play a lot but I know the club, I know Club Brugge because they're a big club in Belgium.
"So I think we have to be play very seriously and treat the game like Bordeaux, and try to score the first goal.
"It's a tough game because they're a good team with some good players, so it's going to be hard for us.
"But if we we start well and start properly, I think we have a chance to win the game."
Although he has this week been warned by Alan Pardew to improve his disciplinary record, Tiote's combative style is perfectly suited to the English game but he revealed that Brugge's approach may take some getting to grips with.
"It's different," he said. "They play a lot with the ball, not so much physical football, so it's different.
"We have to put pressure on them when they start passing, and then we can make problems for them.
"If we win, it would put us in a great position so we have to give everything to win the game."
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