Yaya Toure has revealed his guilt at leaving title-chasing Manchester City this January for international duty with the Ivory Coast, but insists winning both the Premier League and the Africa Nations Cup would complete an ‘amazing’ season.
Toure could miss up to five games for his club side should the the Elephants make it to the final of the tournament in Gabon & Equatorial Guinea, including this Sunday’s clash against third-placed Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium.
“I do feel a bit guilty. I said to my wife it’s difficult to be away from City right now,” Toure told The Sun.
“But if I win the Cup of Nations and then come back and win the league it will be the most amazing season for me. And I’m very positive we can do it.
“Very positive that the Ivory Coast can win the Cup of Nations. And City win the Premier League. It will be very hard, very, very difficult.
“But all my countrymen believe we can win the cup and all City fans believe we can win the League.”
The 28-year-old midfielder is attempting to help the favourites Ivory Coast win their first African Nations title since 1992, a moment Toure recalls fondly.
“I remember in 1992 when we won the cup. It was unbelievable,” he said.
“They were a great team and it was such an exciting game. They won on penalties and the hero was Alain Gouamene, the goalkeeper, because he saved two penalties.
“I was only eight-years-old but I remember it so well. There were big celebrations, the whole country came to a standstill for four days.
“So I know how special it will be for everyone if we can win it again.
“We always have a great team and a fantastic squad. In the last four years we have probably had the best team but have never won it. It’s time to put that right.
“We need to look and learn from Egypt. They are not a big team full of the biggest stars but are all together and work for each other. Now we have to do the same.”
Domestically, Toure expects the title race to stay competitive due to the nature of the Premier League – something he did not see in La Liga when playing for Barcelona.
“There’s big expectations because we are one of the biggest clubs now,” Toure said.
“We have spent a lot of money and built an incredible squad.
“Now we have to justify that by winning trophies.
“Our aim is to win the Premier League but I know that’s not easy. The Premier League is the best competition in the world. It is so difficult to win.
“I remember Thierry Henry talking to me about it when we were at Barcelona.
“He said the Premier League was the most difficult league he had ever played in and now I know why. I have great respect for Spanish football and Barcelona and Real Madrid are so high — but part of that is because the other teams are so low. That makes it all too easy for them.
“You will never see Malaga win at Barcelona or Zaragoza at Madrid.
“But the other day we have bottom-of-the-table Blackburn winning at Manchester United, Aston Villa winning at Chelsea and we lost at Sunderland. Unbelievable.
“That would never happen in Spain.
“That’s why people all around the world love the Premier League. That’s why this league is so hard to win and why it will be so special for me and City to do it this season.
“We know Manchester United are a strong team.
“They have such fantastic experience, more than any other team in Europe. Even more than Barcelona, so it is going to be very tough.”