LAGOS (Reuters) - Yaya Toure was named African Footballer of the Year for a record fourth straight time at the annual Confederation of African Football awards on Thursday.
The Ivory Coast midfielder joins Samuel Eto’o as the only players to win the continent’s top individual award four times but only Toure has done it in successive years, starting in 2011.
His latest triumph came ahead of two other finalists, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Gabon and Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, in a poll of the coaches and captain’s of Africa’s national teams.
“I’ve been very blessed all these years,” Toure said at the ceremony. “I want to thank all the football fans and say ‘Thank you Africa’.” Toure’s award comes on the back of his stellar performances for Manchester City in the Premier League rather than his achievements with the Ivory Coast.
The Ivorians failed to reach the second round at last year’s World Cup in Brazil and struggled through the qualifiers for the 2015 African Nations Cup.
The 31-year-old Toure scored in Manchester City’s League Cup final win over Sunderland in March and notched 20 goals in helping his side regain the Premier League title, a feat for a midfielder that only Frank Lampard had managed before him.
However, Toure suffered heartbreak in Brazil when the Ivory Coast were denied progress from their World Cup group by a last minute Greece goal. He captained the Ivorians in two of their three games ahead of Didier Drogba.
Toure will lead the team at this month’s African Nations Cup finals in Equatorial Guinea.
He had won the award ahead of Seydou Keita (Mali) in 2011, Drogba in 2012 and John Obi Mikel of Nigeria in 2013. Aubameyang and Enyeama were finalists for the first time at the 2014 awards.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ken Ferris