Yaya Toure: Capping a glorious Year in Style
Winning the African Footballer of the Year award back-to-back is a bold testimony to the gritty talent packed by the Manchester City and Cote d’ Ivoire star
Having helped Manchester City win their first trophy in 35 years by scoring the only goal in the 2011 FA Cup final at Wembley, Yaya Toure was then outstanding the following season as City were crowned Premier League champions for the first time.
The powerful Cote d’Ivoire midfielder was instrumental in City’s success as the club ended their 44-year wait for a league championship title.
Toure’s stellar performances, which combined his trademark driving runs, speed and immense physical attributes, enabled City to dominate the midfield and sweep all before them.
And when the Sky Blues stuttered in the title run-in, Toure was magnificent as City beat their biggest rivals Manchester United and then scored twice against Newcastle in the penultimate match of the season to put his side top of the table on goal difference – the margin by which they would clinch the title.
The league winners’ medal was the latest haul of silverware for the 29-year-old, adding to the European Champions League, European Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, two Spanish league titles and Copa del Rey medal he won with Barcelona, and the Greek league title he earned with Olympiakos.
Toure, who won the Confederation of African Football’s 2011 African Player of the Year award, has started this season in strong style. He scored in City’s Community Shield victory over Chelsea and has hit another five goals in the Premier League.
Touré was born May 13, 1983 and he is renowned for combining speed, passing ability, and physical power with technique. A versatile player, he aspired to be a striker during his youth and has played centre back, including for FC Barcelona in the 2009 UEFA Champions League final. He frequently plays as a box-to-box midfielder for club and country and often switches from defensive and offensive positions throughout matches. He began his playing career at Ivorian club ASEC Mimosas, where he made his debut aged 18.
His performances attracted attention from Europe, playing for clubs in minor European leagues. Touré played for Beveren in Belgium, Metalurh Donetsk in Ukraine, Olympiacos in Greece, and AS Monaco in France. In 2007, he moved to Barcelona, playing over 100 matches for the club and was part of the historic 2010 Barcelona team which won six trophies in one season.
Touré then moved to Premier League club Manchester City in 2010, where he has since scored a number of key goals for the Citizens, most notably in the 2011 FA Cup semi-final and Final. Touré has a distinguished international career with 67 caps for Côte d’Ivoire, representing the team in their first appearance in a FIFA World Cup, in the 2006 competition and in 2010.
Touré joined ASEC Mimosas youth academy in 1996 on the recommendation of his long-time mentor Patrick van Reijendam. He then moved to Europe where he played for Belgian side Beveren for two-and-a-half years. Then, in 2003, he had a trial with Arsenal. He started in a match against Barnet, playing as a second striker. Manager Arsène Wenger recognised his talent but could not decide on his best position and described his performance against Barnet as “completely average.” Wenger was still keen to sign the then-20-year old but Touré had difficulties in getting a work permit.
Ultimately, Touré grew impatient and opted to sign for Ukrainian side Metalurh Donetsk instead, where he spent one-and-a-half years. Touré moved to Olympiacos in 2005.
He was nicknamed “the new Patrick Vieira” by his older brother. His performances were impressive and attracted interest from many clubs.
After representing Côte d’Ivoire in the 2006 World Cup, Touré was signed by French Ligue 1 side AS Monaco in August 2006. He had a difficult relationship with the incumbent manager, László Bölöni, with Yaya claiming Bölöni refused to play him in his preferred midfield position. Bölöni was soon sacked with Monaco languishing second from bottom in the league. Laurent Banide replaced him and Yaya became an influential player in the second half of the season, scoring five times to help haul the club out of relegation difficulties. He had established himself as a key midfielder, and with interest from around Europe he decided to join FC Barcelona in the summer of 2007for €10 million.
In January he will begin his quest with Cote d;Ivoire to win the Africa Cup of Nations and try to cap what has already been a glittering career.
It therefore did not come as surprise that he beat fellow countryman, Didier Drogba and Cameroonian Alex Song to the African Footballer of the Year Award for the second time running.