From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.34 :: NO.24 :: Jun. 16, 2011

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FOOTBALL

Yaya on a dream run

Yaya Toure is now a giant in Manchester City folklore having scored the winner in the FA Cup final to bring a trophy back to the blue side of Manchester for the first time in 35 years. He also scored in the semifinals. His rise to prominence is certainly one of rags to riches. By Kieran Canning.

Physically he is as imposing as they come. Six foot three inches tall, 14 stone of sheer muscle, Yaya Toure is very much a giant in physical terms.

He is also now a giant in Manchester City folklore having scored the winner in the FA Cup final and semi-final to bring a trophy back to the blue side of Manchester for the first time in 35 years.

Toure's rise to prominence is certainly one of rags to riches, but his career has also taken an unusual route to Eastlands.

Yaya began his career in his homeland of Ivory Coast with ASEC Mimosas before moving to Belgium to join Beveren in 2001.

After a successful two-year spell in Belgium, Yaya had a trial at Arsenal alongside his brother Kolo. However, problems with a work permit prevented Arsene Wenger from signing him.

The Ivorian then moved on to the Ukraine for a two-year stint with Metalurh Donetsk before moving to Greece with Olympiakos.

After winning a league and cup double in Athens and impressing at the 2006 World Cup, Monaco spent almost GBP4million to take Toure to the principality.

Again, though, after just one season in Ligue 1 Yaya was on the move, this time for his big break and a transfer to Barcelona.

Toure's first season in Catalonia was a testing one. With Frank Rijkaard coming towards the end of his reign, a divided and often temperamental dressing room saw Barca go without a trophy for the second successive season.

Yaya, though, like many Barcelona players, was revitalised by the introduction of Pep Guardiola as coach. He played a crucial role as Barca won the treble for the first time in their history in 2008/09.

A defensive crisis towards the end of the season meant Toure was pushed back to play at centre-back in both the Copa Del Rey and UEFA Champions League finals. It was a role he relished, stepping out from the back to fire in a superb equaliser in a 4-1 win over Athletic Bilbao in Valencia and then confidently seeing out the Manchester United attack as Barca won their third European crown in Rome.

A second title in Spain followed in the next season, but having been usurped by Sergio Busquets in the pecking order, Toure was becoming increasingly restless about his dwindling opportunities to play in the first team.

Following the pattern of his career a departure seemed inevitable and it arrived when Toure became the latest capture of Manchester City's spending spree in the summer of 2010.

Many criticised the move, citing that the massive outlay of GBP24million plus wages in the region of GBP200,000 on a defensive midfielder was unnecessary given the number of players in City's squad already accustomed to playing that role.

However, with 10 goals in his first season in English football Yaya has demonstrated the great attacking abilities that make him an excellent, all-round, box-to-box midfield player.

It is for two of those goals that Toure will be remembered in Manchester, firstly slaying cross-city rivals Manchester United with a powerful run and calm finish that settled the semi-final and then bulleting home a volley against Stoke City that ended City's 35 years of hurt.

With the possibilities limitless as City's blue moon rises, Yaya Toure will forever be remembered as the man who struck the first telling blow.

The Ivorian's first attempt to team up with his brother Kolo failed when after a successful trial at Arsenal he could not secure a work permit.

Yaya is married to his childhood sweetheart Nadjeneba. They have three children called Sydney (6), Rayan (4) and Yasmine (2). A Cadillac is thought to be Toure's motor of choice.

FACTFILE

Name: Yaya Toure.

Position: Midfield

Club: Manchester City

D.O.B: 13/05/1983

Ivory Coast caps: 55

Ivory Coast goals: 7

Ivory Coast debut: v Guinea, 2004

Moment to remember: Scoring the winning goal in the 2011 FA Cup final.

Moment to forget: Yaya was part of the much fancied Ivory Coast side that crashed out of the African Nations Cup at the quarterfinal stage to Algeria in Angola in 2010.

© PA Sport, 2011, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, re-written, re-distributed or commercially exploited. Sportstar is not responsible for any inaccuracy in the material.



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