LAGOS - Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure landed his third successive African Footballer of the Year award on Thursday to cap a memorable week.
The Manchester City player edged out Nigeria’s John Obi Mikel and fellow Ivorian Didier Drogba to make it a hat-trick of wins, emulating Abedi Pele and Samuel Eto’o.
Just 24 hours after storming halfway down the pitch to score a goal in City’s 6-0 demolition of West Ham United in the first leg of the League Cup semifinal, a teary-eyed Toure was the toast of African football as he picked up the award at a gala ceremony in Lagos.
“I’m very proud and happy to be the winner today,” Toure, dressed in traditional Nigerian robes, told the audience.
“I congratulate my brother Obi Mikel who deserved it as well. It’s an unbelievable award for all those who helped me through my career a lot and those who supported me for a long time.”
The Ivorian came top of a poll voted by Africa’s national team coaches, who had Mikel second and Drogba third.
Toure’s success came at the end of a bleak 12-month period for individual achievement by African footballers. Toure’s official citation praised him for his role in helping the Ivorians to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil but the choice is more likely for his consistency at club level in England and the dominant role he plays at Manchester City.
Chelsea’s Mikel was on the shortlist after helping Nigeria to the African Nations Cup title in February. Toure joins an elite club following his hat-trick of wins.
Ghanaian Abedi Pele won three in a row between 1991-93 while Cameroonian Eto’o took the award from 2003-05. Eto’o, who plays up front for Chelsea, also won it in 2010.
Yaya Touré Factfile
Born: May 13, 1983 in Bouake, Ivory Coast
Toure is a product of the fabled ASEC Abidjan academy, which has produced more than 20 players who have gone onto to play for clubs in Europe. - He followed in the footsteps of elder brother Kolo Toure.
Aged 18, Toure moved to Beveren in Belgium, the club which became a colony of Ivorian players using it as a stepping stone to make inroads into European club football
Toure went on to play for five clubs in five different countries after leaving Beveren
He played for Metalurg Donetsk in Ukraine and had an unsuccessful trial at Arsenal before a first high profile signing for Greek giants Olympiakos in 2005
Monaco took him to Ligue 1 after one season in Athens, based on his performances at the 2006 World Cup in Germany
Barcelona paid nine million euros for his services in 2007 but after a successful first season he lost his place in the starting line-up and spoke regularly of his desire to depart
Manchester City paid a reported £24 million in July 2010 to take Toure to the English Premier League
Hobbled off with injury as Man City dramatically beat QPR on the last day of the 2011-2012 season to win a first title in 44 years.
Toure was played out of position at centre back when Barcelona won the Champions League final in 2009
Scored the winner in the 2011 FA Cup final where Man City ended a 35 year await for a trophy with a 1-0 win over Stoke City
League winner in Greece in 2006, Spain in 2009 and 2010 and England in 2012, plus has cup winners’ medals from four different countries.
Debuted for the Ivory Coast in a World Cup qualifier away in Egypt in 2004
Played in the last two World Cups for the Ivorians and five successive African Nations Cup finals since 2006. Has twice reached the final but went home both times with silver.