"Yaya, meet Kolo. Kolo, Yaya." Brothers prepare to battle as Man City meet Liverpool
Manchester City's Boxing Day clash with Liverpool will serve up mixed emotions for the Toure family...
The mouthwatering festive fixture is one of the biggest showdowns of the Premier League season so far, but it will also see Kolo go head-to-head with his younger brother Yaya for the first time in a competitive match. It's sure to stir up a whirlwind of emotions for the siblings, as bragging rights, family pride and the chance to strike a significant blow in this season's title race make it a game they will be desperate not to lose.
So how are the pre-match nerves? FourFourTwo caught up with two of the game's most famous brothers for their take on what will be a very special family affair...
Kolo on Yaya
It's a massive game for you on Boxing Day... Man City vs Liverpool; Yaya v Kolo - but who is your other footballing brother Ibrahim going to be cheering for?
(Laughs) I don't know, you'll have to ask him! I hope it's going to be me. He's got his own career to focus on at Al-Nasr at the moment but I'm sure he'll watch this one with interest. There will be glory for the winner and some real stick for the loser!
How come you've never faced each other before? There have been opportunities haven't there?
Yes, it's just one of those things. Yaya joined Barcelona a year after they beat Arsenal in the 2006 Champions League final, so if it had been slightly different we could have gone head-to-head in the biggest game in club football. It just wasn't meant to be.
We've only ever played each other once and that was in a friendly. When I was at Man City we beat Barcelona 1-0 at the Nou Camp. We were both substituted at half time but Martin Petrov got the winner in the first half when we were still on the pitch, so I'm claiming that! I've got a 100 per cent record at the moment. Like I say, it was only a friendly, but I'll take it!
Who was best growing up?
Yaya had more quality. He is technically more gifted but I think I'm stronger - or at least I was back then! There are nine of us in the family with seven boys and two girls. We used to play three on three quite a lot with some of our brothers. I'd say a couple of them were more gifted than us, but the opportunities fell better for Yaya and myself. I loved those old three-on-three games. I have some great memories. I like to think I came out on top but Yaya will probably have a different recollection of how they went!
Was it always clear you'd both become pro footballers?
I left home at quite a young age and got involved at the ASEC Mimosas academy back in the Ivory Coast. I thank Allah for what we have been able to achieve. It is not easy for two members of a family like ours to become professional footballers and then go on to play for some of the biggest teams in the world. Now we are both challenging at the top in one of the best leagues in the world too. We've always tried to encourage and help each other along the way.
I remember him pestering me, asking me to take him to the academy. I told him it wasn't up to me and that it was down to him to prove he was good enough. I didn't want to disappoint him but I was quietly confident they would take him once they saw his talent. In the end I think it was easy for Yaya to stand out. When the people at the academy saw him it was a simple decision. His quality shone through immediately.
"It's going to be a big game for our family. I guess we are going to see who has got the power!"
Yaya had a trial at Arsenal while you were still there but it didn't work out. Did you have a hand in his City transfer later on?
Yes, he had a trial at Arsenal, but he was carrying an injury at the time. I think that was probably why they didn't take him. It is a shame for Arsenal because I think he could have been amazing in their midfield. A few years later, when I was at Man City, he had become a big star at Barcelona.
I knew he would be a great signing for City and when the chairman (Khaldoon Al Mubarak) spoke to me about it, I had to help make it happen. I got together with Yaya and phoned the chairman. I told him I had Yaya with me and passed him the phone. Not long after that he became a City player. I'm really proud of what he has achieved. He's been a huge success over here.
What was it like at City - did you spend all of your time together?
We are brothers but we like to give each other space. We didn't room together or anything like that. He used to hang out with his friends in the squad and I would hang out with mine. We didn't sit in each other's pockets just because we are brothers.
So, how do you see this game going between two sides fighting at the top of the table...
It's going to be a massive game. Man City vs Liverpool is a big one in its own right and when you look at how close it is at the top of the league, it makes it even more important. But it's also going to be a big game for our family. I guess we are going to see who has got the power! (laughs).
We are treating every match like a cup final and if we can get a positive result it could be huge for our ambitions. We are well aware that City are very strong at home and score a lot of goals. But we've had a good first half of the season and we won't go into the game with any fear. I don't think there's that much between the two teams so whoever shows they want it more on the day will win. I just hope I'm the one smiling at the end of the game and not Yaya!
Yaya on Kolo
Will this be the first time you play against your brother Kolo?
[Laughs] It’ll be the first competitive game we’ve played against each other. We played the Gamper Trophy when I was at Barcelona and he was at Manchester City in 2009, but that was a friendly. Liverpool are now my biggest rival because that’s where he is now! I’m very happy for him, because now he’s playing regular football and enjoying life under Brendan Rodgers, who’s given him a lot of confidence. He’s very happy there.
Did you speak to him about the move?
Absolutely. It was difficult for him, but he was at the end of his contract and Liverpool was the best option. It’s a fantastic club, the fans know football and it has such history. It’s great for Kolo to be at a club with such a high level.
Will you spend Christmas Day with him?
I’m sure we’ll meet the day before the game. He’s still living in the same house which is very close to where I live so we spend a lot of time together and hang out. I don’t like losing so we’ll have to see after the game [laughs].
Will you approach the match any differently?
We have a new manager, so that’s different, but as a professional you always try to prepare for every game in the same way.
There’s a 50-50 tackle between you and Kolo. Do you go in hard?
I just want to win and to do that, you have to go 100 per cent at all times. The most important thing is how the game finishes. Family and friendships are put aside because winning brings happiness to the team and the fans.