Yaya Touré believes he is undervalued as a player because he is African and that the standings in the game of his fellow Ivorian Didier Drogba and Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o have suffered for the same reason.
His Manchester City team-mate Samir Nasri claimed recently that Touré would be celebrated as one of the world’s best midfielders if he was not African. In an interview for Football Focus on BBC World News, Touré said: “I think what Samir was saying was definitely true.
“To be honest, proper recognition has only come from the fans,” said Touré, three times the African player of the year. “I don’t want to be hard and I don’t want to be negative, but I want to be honest.
“If we play well and we don’t have the recognition from the media, we are not going to be where we want to be,” he said.
Touré is also unhappy that Lionel Messi, his former team-mate at Barcelona, is recognised around the world but African players are not. He said: “If you go to any part of Africa now, people will say, ‘yes, we know him [Messi]‘, but when you come to Europe and say ‘Yaya Touré’ people will say, ‘who is that?’ Some will say they know my name but not know my face. But they will know Messi’s face.”
Asked if players such as Eto’o and Drogba felt under-appreciated, Touré replied: “Definitely. I am very proud to be African, I want to defend African people and I want to show to the world that African players can be as good as the Europeans and South Americans.”
Touré also says he will be disappointed if he is not named player of the year by the Professional Footballers’ Association.
He is one of six on the shortlist with Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, Southampton’s Adam Lallana and the Liverpool trio of Luis Suárez, Steven Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge.
Asked if he would be unhappy not to win the award, Touré replied: “Definitely. As a champion, as a winner, I always want to win.”
You can listen to Yaya’s views on our FC Africa podcast
By Gary Al-Smith/Citifmonline.com/Ghana