Professional Ivorian footballer Yaya Toure’ has made quite a big name and a good success story over the years in the world of football.
Known for his versatility and power on the field, the Manchester City player has won African Footballer of the Year three years in a row (2011, 2012 and 2013).
While he may be a favourite for a lot of fans on the field, his football skills aren’t the only things worth knowing about him. Here are 8 things you may not know about Yaya Toure’;
He got his first pair of football boots at the age of 10: A natural talent, he played football with friends and family in the streets of Abidjan from a young age. He soon followed in his older brother Kolo’s footsteps to become a key player for the local youth team, ASEC Mimosas.
He is a practicing Muslim: Frequently named Man of the Match during his time in the Premier League, Touré has turned down the English tradition of champagne after league games in accordance with his religious beliefs.
He almost joined Arsenal in 2003: While playing for the Belgian team, Beveren, Touré trialed with Arsenal in 2003. While the manager was interested in signing him, he had difficulties getting a work permit to play in England. Rather than waiting, Touré took a contract with the Ukrainian team Metalurh Donetsk instead, where he played for more than a year.
His two brothers are professional footballers: Most are familiar with older brother Kolo Touré, Yaya’s teammate both on the Côte d’Ivoire national team and Manchester City, before Kolo was transferred to Liverpool in 2013. Few may be able to name Yaya’s younger brother, Ibrahim Touré, however, who plays for Al-Safa Sporting Club in Lebanon.
He is one of the few midfielders to win African Footballer of the Year: Before Yaya’s first African Footballer of the Year award in 2011, the previous 12 years’ awards had gone to African forwards. As forwards receive more scoring opportunities, they occupy higher-profile positions on the field and receive recognition more often.
He has a history of being targeted by racist mobs: Yaya has commented several times on his love of playing football in England, where racist mobs targeting black players is a rare occurrence. The worst incidents occurred while he was playing in Portugal and Moscow.
He stays behind after training everyday: A strong believer that practice makes perfect, Yaya stays behind after practice in order to continue to improve his free-kick technique in particular.
He is a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. Environment Program: After joining a campaign against elephant poaching in October, Yaya was named a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. and helps to raise awareness about the problem, along with other environmental issues.