Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure says some African footballers need to show more desire to make it to the very top of the game. Toure, 30, is in the running to win the African Footballer of the Year award for a fifth time after the list of nominees was cut to a 10-man shortlist earlier this week.
The Ivory Coast international is also the only African on the shortlist for the FIFA Ballon d’Or award for the fourth year in a row.
“I admit that I see too many of them acting casually,” he told France Football. “You’d say that they’re not always very hungry. Not hungry enough, for my taste. They’re not conscious enough of the effort required to get to the very top.
Of course it can go quite quickly at the start. Too quickly, without a doubt. But when it comes to climbing the final steps to get to the very top with [Lionel] Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, there’s no longer anyone left.”
Toure said part of the problem was that players like himself, compatriot Didier Drogba, former Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o, Ghanaian midfielder Michael Essien and ex-Nigeria attacker Jay-Jay Okocha had set the bar very high for those following them. But the Ivorian captain, who won the African Nations Cup with his country in January, believes some of the current generation could be lacking ambition.
“It’s possible,” he said. “They let themselves go too quickly sometimes. They’re in their world. They think they’ve arrived — the most beautiful, the strongest — but they don’t understand that there are other steps to climb to get to the top. Unfortunately a lot of them only see the good side in this job: easy money, girls, nights out, nice cars, nice clothes. They abandon the idea of catching the best too quickly. They don’t always know how to suffer.”
The former Barcelona player also believes nothing should stop players from targeting becoming the very best.
“There are no extraterrestrials among the best players on the planet,” he said. “Just guys who want it a lot more than the others. Everything starts from there — I’m convinced of that.”