Manchester City’s star midfield Yaya Toure has hit out at fellow African footballers, claiming a “fatalistic resignation” has prevented more players from the continent reaching the summit of the game.
The four-time African Footballer of the Year was the only player from Africa to make it onto the recent shortlist for the Ballon d’Or award and discussed the dearth of players from the continent in an interview with France Football.
“Africans have a tendency to slack off,” said Toure. “They are living in a world of their own. They believe they made it, they are the greatest, the strongest. But they don’t understand that there are many more hills to climb to reach the top.” Unfortunately, many only see the bright side of this job: the easy money, the girls, the parties, the big cars and the beautiful clothes. And they give up too quickly on the idea of matching the best players. Many are content with little. They send money back home and are safe for the next few years. What is the point of suffering? I have the feeling they prohibit themselves from dreaming big with a kind of fatalistic resignation. They believe that the highest level is not for them. “For some time now, I have also seen that Africans are struggling to impose themselves or to exist in larger teams,” he said. “But all this is just the fault of Didier [Drogba], Eto’o, [Michael Essien or [Jay Jay] Okocha. And perhaps, too, a little bit of my own, without wanting to look pretentious.”
There’s no doubt Toure has reached these heights in his career. Having won a plethora of honours with both Barcelona and Manchester City, the midfielder will rightly be revered as one of the finest players of this generation. Helping Ivory Coast win the Africa Cup of Nations also saw the City man etch his name into history on the international stage too.
Toure has been a consistent provider of goals and assists for his club over the last few seasons:
See Most Premier League goals assists by midfielders since 2011/12: David Silva (75) Juan Mata (74) Yaya Toure (70) Eden Hazard (66)
The point is a valid one from Toure, especially given the absence of African players from the Ballon d’Or list. Indeed, the fact he’s been able to win the continental gong for the best player four times in a row is not only a measure of his quality, but that there have been no realistic challengers to take the title off him, especially with Samuel Eto’o ,Didier Drogba and Jay Jay Okocha now in the twilight of their careers. According to Toure, those kinds of players have set a high standard.
Still, it can’t be easy for players heralding from the continent, some of whom have poor backgrounds, to preserve that mentality. Reaching the same levels as Toure will be a secondary concern for players who come from such demographics.
The City man has actually been critical of the perception of African players previously. Speaking with BBC World News last year, Toure claimed he felt as though he was undervalued due to his background.
Nevertheless, Toure has definitely been a figure of inspiration for young players from the continent and an example of what can be achieved should you devote yourself fully to the game. But the issue surrounding the mentality of these players is something that’s far more deep-rooted than a blunt willingness to make do with football mediocrity.