With his Man City career drawing to a close, Yaya Toure has been looking back and taking stock of what has been a fabulous eight years.
Indeed, as part of a retrospective on City’s official website, Toure was interviewed and asked to identify the toughest opponent he’s come up against during his time in the Premier League.
The Ivorian midfielder offered but one name: Nemanja Matic.
I hate him, this bastard! He’s such a difficult player to play against. Tall and strong as well. It’s been fun to play against him, even though it’s difficult. He’s powerful, he’s tall.
To be able to find an opponent to play against me and stop me… there’s few of them, but Matic was one of the close ones who was able to give me problems.
He can run. He can fall back. He can track. He can fight. He’s a good, good player.
Toure was also asked what he feels his greatest achievement as a City player has been.
The 34-year-old has won seven major trophies in his eight seasons at the Etihad, but it turns out he’s far prouder of the wider significance of that success – that City have made up all that ground to usurp Manchester United at the top of the food chain.
To be honest, yes. That’s true, when I came to City, for them to be a big club, we had to put [United] in the shadow.
We cannot compare – they have so many trophies, so many Champions League finals. But that was the purpose. To come to City, to put United in the shadow, although that was always going to be difficult.
They knew City was going to come. United was in our way – we had to remove them, they were such a force.
And Yaya was an integral part of it all – his winning goal in the 2011 FA Cup semi-final against United almost serving to pinpoint the sea change precisely.
Asked what he’ll miss most about daily life at City, Toure said it was the young colleagues he’s come to be very protective of as he settled into his patriarchal, veteran role under Pep Guardiola.
I’m going to miss my teammates, I’m going to miss my little Sterling, my little Sané. They look like my babies.
Toure also hinted that he’d be very keen to remain in the Premier League once his City contract expires this summer, with – of all clubs – Burnley rumoured to be interested in acquiring his services on a freebie.
Yaya operating under the stewardship of Sean Dyche. Can you even imagine?