African legend Toure retires from international football
FOUR-TIME African footballer of the year Yaya Toure of the Ivory Coast announced his retirement from international football on September 20. The 33-year-old Manchester City midfielder – capped 113 times including appearances at three World Cup finals – said it had been an incredibly difficult decision.
“Writing this note was probably ‘the most difficult match of my life’,” said Toure, in the middle of a light season as he has been benched by Manchester City.
“After 14 years at the highest level, I’m sure this is the right time for me! The fact that I am 33 now, the intensity of training and the multitude of games are not the reasons why I am making this decision.”
Toure, part of the golden generation of Ivory Coast players that included Didier Drogba, his brother Kolo Toure and Gervinho, said for all his success at club level, including a Champions League with Barcelona in 2009, it was finally winning the Africa Cup of Nations in 2015 – their first since 1992 – that remained his most precious memory.
Toure, who made his Ivory Coast debut in 2004, captained the victorious Elephants side, replacing Drogba as skipper when the latter retired at international level after the 2014 World Cup.
“I played in Belgium, Ukraine, Greece, France and in Spain where I was able to win the prestigious Champions League with Barca in 2009 and also in England, where I continue to play,” his statement added.
“With the Elephants, it was even more special. I learned to win for my country. That’s why I will always retain the pride in having achieved four African Golden Balls for the Ivory Coast.”
His storied international career has also been marked by personal tragedy, with his mother dying on the cusp of an important junior final in 2003. His younger brother, Ibrahim, succumbed to cancer at age 28 ahead of a crucial group game with Colombia at the 2014 World Cup. –
Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure (centre) raises the trophy after winning the 2015 African Cup of Nations final against Ghana on February 10, 2015.