Yaya Toure

Manchester City and Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure speaks ahead of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, and has plenty to say about his brother and growing up in Africa...

When you grew up in the Ivory Coast, do you remember where you first used to play football?
Yes, I was born in Bouake but my father used to work at the economic capital, Abidjan, so we moved there. I think that is where I started to play football.

We played with friends – just friendly games. At that age, when it's your birthday or Christmas your family gives you a ball or something like that to enjoy. When I was younger, I used to say to my father all the time, "I want a ball." When we were five, six or seven, my friends and I played together. We really enjoyed those moments.

At what age did you realise you were actually pretty good at football?
When I reached eight years old and went to school, I would play with my schoolfriends during the breaks – they were maybe ten or fifteen minutes. It was nice. At that moment I realised I was good at football. I always made people happy when I played, so I started to enjoy football.

You can play in a lot of different positions on the pitch. Where did you play when you were a kid?
When I was a kid, as a forward – always a forward. All the African kids, and every football player when they are young, want to touch the ball and score goals; to be the hero. I always played striker when I was younger.

Who were your footballing heroes growing up?
For a long time I watched a fantastic Barcelona team. At the time it was Ronaldo, and when you remember Ronaldo playing for Barcelona, he was the only one to take the ball from midfield, drive it all the way along the pitch and score a fantastic and lovely goal.

It made me realise not only how good football is, but how if you work hard you can become one of the best players in the world.

At that time, Ronaldo was a fantastic, incredible player.

Do you remember the first game you went to see?
Yes, it was a school game. My school was in the south, and we played a friendly against a team in the west. It was a difficult game. I remember a close friend of mine scored the winning goal and we won the trophy.

Growing up, how competitive were you and your brother Kolo on the football pitch?
Kolo is a very fantastic guy. He is a good man: he always works and he always tries to be at the best level. He is a pure example to me, and he always tried to help. When I was away, like when I played in Belgium or after in the Ukraine, he used to call me, and he always gave me some good advice.

Was there anyone else who was very influential in teaching you how to play football?
Yes, Jean-Marc Guillou. He was the person who brought me to the Academy and it was there I learned to play football. He was really important.

Follow Yaya Toure's full African story at puma.com/football


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