“At Barcelona, I started in midfield and finished in midfield. They did not need me to go forward. My job was just to hold the midfield; to take the ball from one player and give it to another. You must only do it at the right time, though: you have to do whatever creates the most space. If you see space, go into it. If not, hold your position and pass the ball to create space that way. You cannot just run forward for the sake of it. Sometimes it is good to drive, and sometimes you have to be clever and play it quickly.”
More after the break
Be hard but fair
“You have to be very careful depending on who you are up against. When you are facing strong opposition players, maybe you can force them to make a mistake by going in – not aggressively, but forcefully. But with smaller, lighter players, you have to be more cautious. You have to wait, and challenge with intensity but not so much force. It is too easy to get booked now. There is also the fact that people look up to you, and if you get a red card straightaway, you are not setting a good example.”
Find strength in the gym
“The conditioning coaches are the most important people at the club for me: they help me to keep my body fit, which is essential for my role. I work on every part of my body every day: arms and legs, back, shoulders – whatever you can think of. But the key is not to use heavy weights, but to do a lot of repetitions with smaller weights. We will do eight, 10 or 12 reps depending on the exercise, but no more, because you cannot be heavy on the pitch. The light weights mean you can be light on the pitch.”
The Yaya Workout
Power past opponents with this routine used by Toure, devised by Man City’s head of fitness Simon Bitcon
“Yaya does a combination of strength and power work. One workout he will do is a series of barbell squats followed by box jumps.
To do this, place a barbell (at whatever weight you feel comfortable) behind your neck with an overhand grip. Put your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, secure your back and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Pause, then drive up through your body to the start position. Yaya will do this four times, then rest for three to four minutes before moving on to the box jump.
Stand in front of the box, which must be high enough that it’s a challenge to leap on, but not so high you’ll injure yourself.
Make sure the box is secure, then with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees and jump up onto it, using your arms to propel your body upwards.
Step down and repeat the jump a second time. This combination of exercises works key lower body muscles, such as the glutes, quads and hamstrings.
Building strength in your legs will enhance your performance by developing and maintaining explosive power for accelerating and jumping.”
Yaya wears the Puma Speed v.1.11 boot. Go to puma.com/football