Yaya Toure: ‘To some people, black players are animals not human beings… and I’m not rated because I’m African
Manchester City and Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure believes he is not regarded as one of the best players in the world because he is from Africa.
Toure has scored 22 goals this season, helping City win the League Cup and challenge for the Premier League title.
Club-mate Samir Nasri said Toure would be celebrated as one of the world’s best midfielders if he was not African.
Not happy: Yaya Toure says he isn’t regarded as a one of the world’s best players because he’s from Africa
Unstoppable! The Manchester City midfielder has had a tremendous season for Manuel Pellegrini’s side
Asked what he thought, the 30-year-old Toure said: ‘I think what Samir was saying was definitely true.’
In an exclusive interview for Football Focus on BBC World News, Toure said he feels he does not receive enough recognition for what he has achieved.
Toure has won league titles in four countries – Ivory Coast, Greece, Spain and England – and was part of the Barcelona team that won the Champions League in 2009.
‘To be honest, proper recognition has only come from the fans,’ said the three-time African player of the year. ‘I don’t want to be hard and I don’t want to be negative, but I want to be honest.’
Toure feels the media should do more to promote African players.
‘If we play well and we don’t have the recognition from the media, we are not going to be where we want to be,’ he said. ‘People regard people from Africa as animals.’
Recognised: Toure was declared the CAF African Footballer of the Year in Nigeria earlier this year
Primed and ready: The languid midfielder will be Ivory Coast’s lynchpin during this summer’s World Cup
Strong words: Samir Nasri claims Toure would be considered as one of the best if he wasn’t African
Contrast: Toure isn’t happy that Lionel Messi is said to be the best but players like himself are overlooked
Another trophy: Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, pictured with the Copa del Rey, won the Ballon d’Or
Toure also feels African players need to do far more to stand out, drawing comparisons with Barcelona duo Andres Iniesta and Xavi, both former team-mates of his.
He says Iniesta and Xavi are often praised for their attacking skills, but rarely singled out for criticism when they fail to defend properly.
In contrast, Toure claims he is regularly picked on by the media when he makes a defensive mistake. The Ivorian is also unhappy that Lionel Messi, widely regarded as one of the best players in the world with Cristiano Ronaldo, is recognised around the world but players like himself are not.
He said: ‘If you go to any part of Africa now, people will say “yes, we know him [Messi]”, but when you come to Europe and say ‘Yaya Toure’ people will say ‘who is that?’ Some will say they know my name but not know my face. But they will know Messi’s face.’
Toure, who has played in Belgium, Russia, Greece, France, Spain and now England, says he will be disappointed if he is not named player of the year by the Professional Footballers’ Association. He is one of six players on the shortlist, alongside Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, Southampton’s Adam Lallana and the Liverpool trio of Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge.
Asked if he would be unhappy not to win the award, Toure replied: ‘Definitely. As a champion, as a winner, I always want to win.’
Only man to clinch it: Former AC Milan striker George Weah is the solitary African winner of the Ballon d’Or
Lethal finisher: Toure says Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o is ‘more than a legend’ in his mind
Winners! Manchester City clinched the Premier League title under Roberto Mancini in the 2011/12 season
Look at that! Toure inspects the Champions League trophy with Pep Guardiola while at Barcelona in 2009
Asked to reflect on the fact there has only been one African winner of the Ballon d’Or – former AC Milan and Liberia striker George Weah in 1995 – Toure cited the significant contributions made by the likes of fellow Africans Samuel Eto’o and Didier Drogba at club level.
‘Those players are more than legends for me and Africa,’ he said.
Asked if he knew if players such as Eto’o and Drogba also felt under-appreciated, the former Barcelona player replied: ‘Definitely.’
He added: ‘I am very proud to be African, I want to defend African people and I want to show to the world that African players can be as good as the Europeans and South Americans.’