Toure remembers his roots while climbing to the top of the tree

 

Yaya Touré says that every Manchester City match is like a cup final. Which should hardly faze a man who won a Wembley semi-final against Manchester United last season by scoring the only goal and then repeated the dose against Stoke City in the final a month later.

If last spring was an exciting time for City, winning a major trophy after 35 years, the early season has held out further promise. The eve of the first derby for many a day that will begin with City sitting on top of the table is no time to rest on laurels. It is instead an appropriate occasion to hear from the man himself.

Yaya is a much taller, more lithe figure than his big brother and clubmate Kolo, almost as animated and with greater awareness than many footballers of where he has come from and the problems that remain there. Like his fellow Ivory Coast player Didier Drogba, he sees football as a uniting force for a divided country in which he is regarded with veneration.

"War has come now," he says, "my country needs help and I think we can give things to the children and help them play football. It's very difficult, because when you're here you see the TV, and your family or some people in your country die, the people you know and who you live with for a long time. When you go back home you see it's not like it was, it is hard sometimes. What we try and do now is go back to the country twice or three times a year and do things for people."

After not being able to afford a pair of football boots until the age of 10, Touré took a well-trodden path out of the Ivorian city Abidjan via a football academy in Belgium and places as far flung as Donetsk, Athens, Monaco and Barcelona. At Barça he played centre-half in the 2009 Champions' League final against Wayne Rooney and United, showing a versatility that means his precise role can rarely be forecast ahead of any game. Today he could sit in front of the back four, seeing plenty of Rooney again, or be pushed further forward, as he was when Roberto Mancini made a tactical change after little more than half an hour of last Tuesday's match against Villarreal.

"Yaya has always played for the top teams," Mancini says, "he has a good mentality, a winning mentality. When you are a top player you can play in every position and for me Yaya is one of the best in Europe. He can play defensive midfielder, second striker or as a defender. He has everything, technically. And he brings a lot of experience. It's important because we have a young team, so one player like Yaya or Gareth Barry is very important to the team."

With Nigel de Jong back from injury, Barry's position today may depend on Touré being further forward – the hope being that Mancini will not dispense with the morepositive approach that hascharacterised City's free-scoring start to the season.Their 27 goals in eight games and United's 25 offer hope of a wide-open game, though tension may breed caution. Given their poor record at Old Trafford, where United have such a rampant one, City would accept a draw, even if Touré and Mancini insist they will not play for one.

"When I signed for this club I was told it was a story waiting to be written, and that's what it feels like," Touré said. "The fans are happy now and the players are too, we want to do something else that's amazing. The players all want to be part of the story at a big club, and this club can become a great club, I'm sure.

"Now we have won the FA Cup and are playing in the Champions' League it is harder, every team wants to beat City, every game is a bit like a cup final. I think in the next few years you will see us win some trophies."

World-wide appeal and world-class stars or not, winning some games at Old Trafford is high on the wish-list of the club's supporters.



Yaya Touré is working with Puma to provide boots and playing kits to underprivileged children in Africa

Sport
footballLIVE City face Stoke, while Warnock returns to Palace dugout
Arts and Entertainment
books
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone