Yaya Toure: Manchester City star urged to play on for country

By John BennettBBC World Service Sport
Yaya Toure, African Cup of Nations
Ivory Coast beat Ghana on penalties in a repeat of the 1992 Africa Cup of Nations final

Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure has been told the Ivory Coast is still "counting on him" and he should not retire from international football.

Toure, 32, asked to miss this month's Africa Cup of Nations qualifier with Sierra Leone, a move that suggested he may decide to focus on his club career.

But former manager Francois Zahoui is eager for Toure to continue as captain.

"I hope he really thinks about this because the country really relies on his talent," said the 53-year-old.

"He should continue because all the great players - whether it's Pele, Maradona, Platini or Zidane - played for their countries until the end of their careers, trying to win trophies," added Zahoui, who managed his country from 2010 to 2012.

"Yaya is still young, he's still enormously talented. Of course it's up to him, but if I had advice for him it would be to say do your maximum to bring as many trophies as you can to Ivory Coast, because he has the talent to do that."

Since making his international debut in 2004, Toure has collected 95 caps and scored 19 goals.

In 2014 he took over as captain when striker Didier Drogba retired and earlier this year led his country to a first Africa Cup of Nations triumph since 1992.

Francois Zahoui
Former Ivory Coast manager Francois Zahoui believes Toure should continue to play international football until the end of his career

Zahoui accepts the high of finally winning the Africa Cup of Nations may have had an impact on Toure's enthusiasm to continue playing for his country.

"Of course, the fact he won the Cup of Nations after all those years of waiting understandably released a lot of nervous tension and has led to a period of winding down. That's normal," said Zahoui, who played for Ascoli, Nancy and Toulon in Europe and is now manager of Niger.

"But even though he plays in a demanding league I think he still has the strength to go on.

"When you're young enough and you still have the chance to win trophies, whether it's for your club or your country then you still have to keep going."

Toure has played in six Africa Cup of Nations, suffering defeat in the final in 2006 and 2012 prior to this year's victory.

The former Barcelona player, whose brother Kolo retired from international football in February, has also featured in three World Cups.

"When I was in charge of the team, Yaya always gave his all for the country. When his country called, straight away he was there," Zahoui told the Sport Today programme on BBC World Service.