Four-time CAF African Footballer of the Year, Yaya Toure, who is also a two-time recipient of the BBC African Player of the Year, has today, September 20, 2016, announced his retirement from international football.
The Manchester City FC midfielder, took to his Twitter and website and released the following statement explaining the difficult decision to step away from playing for the Ivory Coast national team.
YAYA TOURE OFFICIAL STATEMENT:
THANK YOU to the Elephants!
Writing this note was probably “the most difficult match of my life”. After 14 years at the highest level, I’m sure this is the right time for me! The fact that I am 33 now, the intensity of training and the multitude of games are not the reasons why I am making this decision. Football is everything to me and it gave me so much in my career that I no longer feel able to set myself new goals as a player with the Elephants of Ivory Coast. This decision I have made has come gradually, it has slowly matured in my head. I definitely thought it necessary wait until the qualifying stages for the next AFCON were over. It was also important for me that I do not disturb the dynamics of the national team.
I was very honoured whenever the national team gave me a call-up. And I still remember my first final in 2003 wearing the shirt of the Ivory Coast. We were in the junior category. With Eboue, Romaric, Dialito , Tony, Yeboah Daniel… We had just missed out on winning the trophy against Egypt. It was in Burkina Faso at the Stade du 04 Aout in Ouagadougou. I was eager to quickly go home and explain this adventure to my mother, upon our return to Abidjan. But fate had reserved for me an unpleasant surprise. I could not even imagine that the hardest of times was beginning for me. Two days before the final, Jacques Anouma, Idris Diallo and coach Mama Ouattara Fire called me over. They all looked up with struggle and when I looked in their eyes I felt that something was wrong. With great difficulty they announced to me the news that no child wants to hear. The death of my mother. It was painful. We were coming back from training and I had to immediately return to Abidjan. I held still, to play the final. I understood that I would never be able to offer to my mother the shirt of the national team that I had promised her. I owe her everything and I would like to solicit your assistance to pray for her, for her soul to be at rest.
I would like to say that I have come to make this important decision in my footballing life. Like with my mother, I also had the same feelings when we were in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. I was told of the death of my younger brother, Ibrahim. Once again on the eve of an important match. This time it was against Colombia in the second game of the group stages and we had to win. I still have the bruised heart. These are moments that have been difficult for me. Since the time of being one of the junior leaders in 2003 to being captain of the first team in 2014, I have always made the choice to continue competing with the team. I could not leave the group. This has always been a need for me to play under the colours of the national team. I remember that famous 2006 AFCON in Egypt – we may have lost the final but it was the beginning of a rewarding adventure. In this competition, I managed to achieve my first goal with the senior team during the second group match against Libya, which we won 2-1. It was the winning goal. This was our second victory after the win against Morocco and qualified us for the second round.
I still remember the AFCON 2008 in Ghana, specifically for the semi-final stage held in Kumasi. The Egyptians tightened their game to win the battle in midfield. I left the game injured and at this stage of the competition I had five assists. I also remember the sorrow in the Angolan enclave of Cabinda in 2010. There was an untenable atmosphere after the episode concerning the Togolese bus – I also want to pay tribute to the Togolese footballers.
I remember another AFCON final defeat in 2012 in Gabon where I could not stop the flow of tears. Finally, I look back to the victory in 2015. It came as a big “phew”! It was a relief. Finally the Ivorian people claimed their cup after so many years. Our generation had accomplished its mission and it was a great reward for all Ivorians, who never stopped thanking us. Through the members of the Ivorian National Committee of Supporters (CNSE), I realized how many Ivorians are remarkable. I would ask them for their understanding. And ask them, as we say, to give me “part of the road”.
I thank all my teammates of the national team, from those first few hours with the Elephants until now. With them, I have had the pleasure of facing Brazil, Argentina, Portugal, Colombia, Greece… We have faced such great national teams at the finals of the World Cup in three consecutive tournaments (2006, 2010 and 2014).
I would like to say solemnly that I am stopping!!! It’s true that I had several titles at clubs, national cups, league trophies. I played in Belgium, Ukraine, Greece, France and in Spain where I was able to win the prestigious Champions League with Barca in 2009 and also in England, where I continue to play.
With the Elephants, it was even more special. I learned to win for my country. That’s why I will always retain the pride in having achieved four African Golden Balls for the Ivory Coast. I thank God almighty for allowing me to do this consecutively. I especially thank my fans, my friends and my family for supporting me. I also make a special mention to our journalist partners who have accompanied us in these adventures. I thank my family, my father, my brothers and my sisters who all supported me. I will always and forever feel blessed to have been born into such an exemplary family because without them I would never have been anything, or won what I have won, today. I pay tribute to my wife and to my children, for whom I must spend a lot more time with, above all.
I can still bring a lot to the players, to the youth of my country and to the African continent and to the world. I would like to give the children what football has given me. Football gave me a lot. It taught me many things, things of life. This is one of the most important lessons in my life.
Thank you! God bless you!