Yaya Toure is African football's last man standing

Yaya Toure equalls Samuel Eto'o's 4 APOTY award record (©GettyImages)

Yaya Gnegneri Toure has with even no infinitesimal doubt registered firmly his presence on the pantheon of African football greats having won his fourth CAF African Footballer of the Year gong doing so in a grand style, consecutively.

I will underline the word consecutive. One of the Karmic laws, the Law of Change, states that: "History repeats itself until we learn the lessons that we need to change our path."

But for a player to repeat this feat of Yaya Toure's by winning four awards back-to-back is something that is unlikely but not impossible in the immediate few years ahead of us.


Yaya has won 15 major club titles with ASEC Mimosas, Olympiacos, Barcelona and Manchester City including a Champions League triumph with the Catalans in 2009.

He has also six major individual awards including the historic four African Footballer of the Year awards in a row. With  Ivory Coast, he has been in five Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, reaching the finals in the 2006  and 2012 editions, and has three FIFA World Cup appearances under his belt, with a total of 83 caps 16 goals scored for his country.

Lionel Messi Record Equality

Barcelona's Lionel Messi won four Ballon d'or awards on the trot between 2009 and 2012, something that elevated his greatness status in world football even higher.

However, 31-year old Yaya Toure should rightfully be considered in the same breath given his achievements in African football. Both the African Footballer of the Year and the Ballon d'Or were first conceived by France Football magazine, until FIFA and CAF took over full authority of the awards respectively, and there are no two individual awards with more gravitas.

Filling the cafeterias in Africa

Africa was the place to be during the days of Michael Essien, Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou at Chelsea, while Samuel Eto'o, Seydou Keita and Yaya Tourepulled the strings from Spain in the Barcelona team.

Emmanuel Adebayor was scoring goals for Arsenal while Kole Toure kept them out, and Africa had perhaps established its golden generation. Even with Adebayor at Spurs, Eto'o at Inter, Essien on loan at Madrid, these were still great days.

Cafeterias, very common in francophone African countries were always packed. People gather there to eat, talk football, argue about top African stars at top European clubs.There was always sheer delight when African football fans saw their local stars shine at the top level of world football.

I watched the group stages and the round of 16 matches of the 2010 World Cup in Ivory Coast, I was based at Abobo, a suburb in Abidjan and I still remember it with relish. I am not very sure this happens still with the dwindling number of world class African players in world football now.

Yaya Toure: Last man standing?

There is no denying the fact that currently the Manchester City midfield maestro is the first ahead of several others, as the African player who is playing top level football well in Europe.

His national team might not be doing well but Ivory Coast as I know have some non-football related problems that has rocked the golden generation of the francophone African country, the bad politics and tribalism et all have contributed to the perennial failure of the Elephants.

When Roberto Mancini's Manchester City won the 2010/2011 FA Cup, it was the first time the club had won a trophy in 35 years. Yaya's contribution to the team was central.

Collectively he helped and individually he produced magic moments too. In the semi-finals City met sworn rivals Manchester United at Wembley and it was Yaya who stood between Alex Ferguson side and a place in the final as his 52nd minute goal proved to be the match winner and the only goal of the game.

It was 14 May, 2011 at Wembley. The final score read Manchester City 1 Stoke City 0. Once again who scored for the Citizens? The man born in the Ivorian northern city of Bouake in 1983  was the hero for the club as his 74th minute left-footed pile-driver opened the silverware floodgates.

Yaya would forever be remembered. A midfield dominion who has taken his game to another phase playing top level football consistently since arriving in England establishing himself as the engine room and most devastating force at the Etihad Stadium.

To think that he had been sidelined by then Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola who favoured Sergio Busquets ahead of the African. But it was not the end for Toure. He believed in his quality and standard and that has manifested since joining Manchester City.

He has bullied opponents in midfield,has scored goals with either of his feet, has won trophies, has commanded and dictated how games should go, nobody has steamrolled the opposition like Yaya in the last few seasons.

Surprisingly, he has even transformed into a more scoring midfielder at City. Toure played 117 matches in all competitions for Barcelona, scoring just six goals, but in Manchester the former ASEC Mimosas player scored 52 goals in 184 matches in all competitions from the 2010/11 to 2013/14 season.

Not so many players would go on to maintain that class against the backdrop of the trauma of rejection by a club as big as Barcelona. This is why Yaya Toure is an oddity, a very rare footballer with an ideal height and physique.

Thanks Yaya for all you have done for African football.

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