Newcastle midfielder Cheik Tiote has escaped jail despite admitting he possessed a fake driving licence.
The 27-year-old was handed a seven-month suspended sentence after purchasing a fake Belgian licence which he then attempted to swap for a full UK licence.
A Newcastle Crown Court heard that the Ivory Coast international purchased the forgery for €15,000 (£12,800) near Brussels airport, handing over cash and a photograph of himself.
Tiote then attempted to send the fake licence to the DVLA in Swansea with an application for a UK licence.
“The licence was a very good forgery but there were a number of features that showed it was a forgery,” said prosecutor Mr Tony Hawks.
“The offence is aggravated by what he has done as he sought to change base metal into gold.”
Tiote also received a fine of £600 and six points on his licence after he admitted driving a motor vehicle otherwise than in accordance with a licence in February.
But he pleaded not guilty to a charge of driving with no insurance and that will be dealt with at magistrates' court.
Suspending the imprisonment for 18 months, Judge James Goss QC told Tiote that he would have to complete 180 hours of unpaid work.
“I give you credit for your plea of guilty, which has saved you from an immediate sentence of imprisonment,” he said.
“In that way you will be punished and I have no doubt that, using your considerable talent, you will be able to assist others in the community by encouraging them and passing on your skills that way.”
Tiote was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £3,795 and a victim surcharge of £100.