African leg­end Toure re­tires from in­ter­na­tional foot­ball

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

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. –

Photo: AFP

Ivory Coast mid­fielder Yaya Toure (cen­tre) raises the tro­phy af­ter win­ning the 2015 African Cup of Na­tions fi­nal against Ghana on Fe­bru­ary 10, 2015.

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