In an extensive interview with L’Équipe this morning, Manchester City midfielder Yaya Touré hit out extraordinarily at the English press and claimed he was, generally-speaking, unhappy with his current situation. In full.
At the end of last season, we felt that you were a bit irritated in your rare pronouncements when it was said that you had more or less failed your season with Manchester City. Are you at this point, sensitive to the critics?
When things are done positively, meaning in a way to advance things, it interests me a lot. But here, in England, it is not the case. In these last weeks, the journalists have spoken about a new departure for me. But what new departure? I have just come out of a season with City where we finished second in the English league, which is the hardest in the world, I scored 12 goals despite the fact that I had to leave the club to join my national team that was playing in the African Cup of Nations, I was out for nearly two months, and I am reproached for not scoring as many goals as last season?
Last season, exactly, I scored 26 goals, 20 in the Premier League, and nobody mentioned it. You understand a bit by disgust. Here, when it is bad, they stress it, when its good, they leave that in the dungeon. They have always used their little methods to annoy me, to alienate me.
Why do they do that?
I do not know. Actually, I do know. I often have the impression I am an inconvenience. A lot. Here, things are never said as they should be said. We should speak just as much about the positives as the negatives, no? Us, the Africans, when we do good work, we like to be recompensed for that, recognised. Because if we are recognised for our true value, we advance faster. That is what I believe.
But why are you an inconvenience?
For several reasons. When I arrived at City, in 2010, a heard a lot of people say, here, that I was going to kill football! I was coming from Barcelona as a player who had not played a lot in the previous months, and they did not understand. The journalists were talking about my salary and saying that it was a disgrace. Despite the fact that I had just arrived at the club to help them to progress and to win titles. A lot of people, idiots, I have to say, mocked me when I said that.
They asked what I, Yaya Touré, was going to change at City. And so, did you see what happened next? We won nearly everything. I did it, we did it, because I was not all alone of course, but nobody picked up on it again. In fact, it is recognition that I do not have that hurts me rabbit. It is a bit sickening.
Do you feel as if you are not recognised as you should be?
Yes, exactly. We are always looking, even today, to find fault in me for insignificant things even though I am doing more and more.
Why not go to meet the English press to explain all of what you just told us?
Why? Because they continued to attack me. Honestly, I just turned in on myself. And that does not bother me, because I am quite reserved. You know, when they they regularly put me high up on their pages explaining that it is I who is the problem, that I need to leave, there is not much you can do…
In 2013-2014, as you said, you scored 26 goals in the season although you are a defensive midfield.
Yes, 26 goals, and no recognition, no trophy, nothing. One day, in Abidjan, a youngster, 15 years old, stops me and says: “Big brother, you say that you have to always work harder, but we see what you are going through over there. We, we did not get your opportunity and you think that we are going to work like you ask only to be treated like that?”
You know, young people see through us, they see through their role models and they ask questions.
Before signing a contract extension for two years, until 2017, did you think of leaving Manchester?
People thought that I was going to leave because of all that, but they forget that I am an honest person who keeps his word. I could not leave for those reasons. Even if there were lots of bitter people who tried to dirty my name by making up things, I also know that lots of youngsters are watching me. Me, I am a believer, and as we say at home: “It is God who deals with the palaver”.
When people attack you, you should not respond, because for the most part, they understand nothing. Thankfully, my record and my statistics speak for me. But what happens here is not an anomaly. Look at Ivory Coast. Last season, we won AFCON. That was my biggest desire, my most important project, it happened, finally, after losing two finals. On top of that, I lifted the trophy as the captain of Les Elephants. Exceptional, unforgettable.
Did you see how people treated me in the Ivory Coast? What they were saying about me, about my family, about my brother Kolo? It did not stop. On top of that, they put at loggerheads with Didier Drogba, by saying that it was I who did not want him to come back to the national team. Despite Hervé and I not stopping calling him to get him to come back for his place. Once again, I did not respond. I did my job, won AFCON with my colleagues, and subtly, the most unloved individual in the Ivory Coast became the best-loved for a little while.
Don’t tell us that the Ivorians don’t like you…
Of course, there are people who appreciate me, but those people did not express themselves so much, contrary to those who hate me. When you see people hating you although you are fighting to defend the colours of your country, that hurts.
Ok, so if that’s the case, why do they hate you?
It comes from a long time ago, from the Jean-Marc Guillou Academy. People hated the Academy because we won everything.
So there were then groups inside the national team. Conflicts, fights even between pro-Drogba people and players from the Academy, that you were representing?
They said that I fought with Didier (Drogba), with Zokora, and even Kolo, my own brother… They said everything. Even that I did more for my club than my national team. Despite the fact that I am an Ivorian citizen, that I love my country, that I am trying to unite people. And they denigrated me, even through songs, politicians insulted me. That hurts, that hurts a lot. The national team, it no longer has anything to do with football.
So, you are going to end your international career. There are murmurs even, in Abidjan, that you are going to make your decision public after the presidential elections on the 25th October?
That’s false, that’s made up. Over there, some people tend to speak too much. Those people are not very intelligent. I do not have a habit of doing impactful interviews, I say only what I think. I have suffered for years, and now I have decided to speak out. I am saying everything.
So are you going to stop (international career) because you said that you would tell the truth from the beginning of this interview?
(he smiles) I love my country. If that was not the case, if I was spiteful, I would have said I stop. But it is my country. When I go back to Abidjan, it is not to earn money. I could tell you the bonuses we get after each match, I could tell you which problems we have with our clubs each time that the squad meets, I could tell you of the big sacrifices that I make, that we all make, for our homeland. I can tell you also that, when I go to the national team, it costs me more than I earn. But it is my country, and even if I am the player who is the most insulted in this country, even if I was everybody’s laughingstock, I cannot abandon it.
You have three children, two sons…
Yes, I have three children, it is what I say, but I have a lot more, because I look after orphans of the Ivory Coast. I want that everywhere in this country, that children have something to eat each day. But I don’t tell them that. I like the orphans. But it is my wife who takes care of that. I am a muslim, and it is written in our principles, we do not say it. Me, I don’t have a foundation like others. I want that to be between those that I help and God. Children are the future, they are tomorrow, that is everything!
In England, in Manchester, do you invest in that sort of thing too?
With my sponsor (Puma), yes. But I try above all to stay close to my children. My daughter often asks me to come and pick her up from school, but it is difficult for me to be out in Manchester. And then, we have a match every three days…
But you take your two sons to training and to matches?
What? I will tell you something. Something I have not spoken to anyone about but my wife. I do not want my two sons in football. I do not want them to have to go through everything that I have endured. It has hurt me. Studying for them, that’s what I told the missus. You know, everyone thinks I am happy: I have won titles, lots of money, but, no, I am not happy…