Yaya Toure reveals he's trying to end feud with Pep Guardiola

‘I’ve written a letter to apologise… I want peace’: Yaya Toure reveals he’s trying to end feud with Pep Guardiola over his ‘indecent’ claim of manager disliking Africans, but hasn’t heard back from Man City

  • Yaya Toure is the uncomfortable Manchester City legend, his relationship with the club he served with distinction and Pep Guardiola still uneasy
  • He regrets the France Football interview he gave in which inflammatory quotes about Guardiola’s attitude to Africans were ‘twisted’
  • Toure has written to the club to apologise but hasn’t received a response back
  • Ivorian midfielder does remember the incredible success at City with fondness
  • He won three Premier League titles, the FA Cup and two League Cups there
  • 37-year-old takes great pride in his role in City usurping neighbours Man United 

Vincent Kompany gave a speech on the night Yaya Toure waved goodbye to Manchester City three years ago. 

Obviously Kompany gave a speech – he loves one. He is good at them, in fairness, and struck the perfect tone with mic in hand on the Etihad pitch.

Kompany emotionally listed Toure’s defining contributions. ‘Thank you, Yaya,’ he said. ‘If you’re not going to be a legend after all that then you’ll never be a legend.’

Yaya Toure’s relationship with Pep Guardiola remains uneasy despite the Ivorian midfielder’s status as a Manchester City club legend 

Toure won three Premier League titles and a host of other domestic honours with City 

Toure, now the coach of Olimpik Donetsk in Ukraine, spoke about his reconciliation mission

It was Toure who scored the goal in the 2011 FA Cup semi-final that marked a shift in the power balance between City and rivals Manchester United

Toure is the uncomfortable legend, if anything, and on a reconciliation mission 10 years since he altered Manchester’s footballing landscape forever when pinching a ball off Michael Carrick in that FA Cup semi-final derby. 

Toure wants peace with City, the club he spent eight seasons at but with whom his relationship remains uneasy.

He has been happily reminiscing the good times. The sliding doors moment against Manchester United in 2011. His winner in the subsequent FA Cup final over Stoke City. The three Premier League titles, the two League Cups. His stonking season in 2013-14, perhaps the best of any modern midfielder. In essence, his role in City’s ascent.

Pride shines yet sadness lingers in the way Toure speaks. Now 37, he is ready to take his large share of the blame for this breakdown in communication with City – a club he has not revisited since 2018, despite a lifetime season ticket and a training pitch named in his honour.

There is an admission that an interview given to France Football one month after his departure, including wildly inflammatory quotes about Pep Guardiola’s attitude towards Africans, was inexcusable.

Toure has tried to apologise to Guardiola for inflammatory quotes about the manager’s treatment of African players in an interview with France Football

Toure isn’t sure whether his apology reached Guardiola as he attempts a reconciliation 

Toure’s achievements at Manchester City  

316 appearances and 82 goals for the club between 2010 and 2018.

Toure helped City win the Premier League title in 2011-12, 2013-14 and 2017-18.

The Ivorian midfielder also won the FA Cup in 2010-11 as well as the League Cup in 2013-14 and 2015-16.  

He reveals sending a letter to the club last year, offering an unreserved apology for his actions. It has so far gone unanswered and he is unsure whether the apology ever reached Guardiola.

‘That interview was my big, huge mistake,’ Toure rues. ‘When you give your trust, your voice to someone, they can twist it.

‘I was aware some staff were not happy. I emailed a letter to try to communicate with some important people there to apologise and say I’ve been indecent to the club but I haven’t had any feedback.

‘I want peace. We don’t want this (acrimony) all the time. For the love of the fans, for the love of the club, sometimes things have to be settled the right way. I’ve been in touch with some people there.’

Toure, a coach in Ukraine with Olimpik Donetsk at the moment, is the hero rarely referenced. Almost a mythical footballer. Toure, the protagonist who ended City’s 35-year trophy drought all those seasons ago, feels like a fable.

‘The semi-final with United… we were a mess,’ he says. ‘They dominated us. How many chances? Joe Hart made incredible saves. (Dimitar) Berbatov missed the unmissable. It was incredible: two or three yards from goal, over the bar.

‘They bullied us. We got to the dressing room at half-time… Roberto Mancini left us. We battered each other. Shouting. This cannot happen! 

Toure’s goal in the 2011 semi-final at Wembley marked a sliding doors moment in Manchester

Toure also scored the winning goal in the 2011 final, as City defeated Stoke City 1-0

‘If we lose then we lose – we accept it, they were better – but not playing like that. We lost all the duels. We were poor, it was horrendous. We respected United too much.’

Toure told Gareth Barry and Nigel De Jong to hold the midfield fort and he would win the game. 

Making his good on his promise, he pinched possession off Michael Carrick, charged for goal and slipped under Edwin Van Der Sar to create folklore. 

‘Some keepers open their legs, I knew what to do,’ he grins. Toure still watches that goal on YouTube and will doubtless have a look on its anniversary. 

City aim to reach only their second final since then on Saturday against Chelsea at Wembley.

In all, Toure scored 82 goals from midfield for City in 316 appearances for the club

‘I was close to joining Chelsea,’ he says. ‘Juventus and Inter as well. Chelsea would’ve been easy because they already had a story as a great club. Didier Drogba was there as well.

‘City were more demanding, if you understand what I mean? They said they were going to change, they want to be a big club, better than their neighbour.

‘Carlos Tevez was a huge figure in that moment but he was quite concerned, when you see players like (Emmanuel) Adebayor, Robinho… City was doing good business but then those players were able to leave. They weren’t adapting well with the club.

‘But I was thinking in my mind to get to a club where people can see me. At Barcelona I was surrounded by great players – Xavi, Iniesta, Messi – and that meant people thought it was easy for me to play with them. After I moved to City, people started to realise how capable I was.’

They did, although Toure tag of mischief-maker has since stuck and he resents that. 

Toure listens to Guardiola’s tactical instructions while a Barcelona player in October 2009

His agent, Dimitri Seluk, was forever in scrapes with City over all sorts – possibly leaving, new contracts, lack of respect. In truth, the player probably did not do enough to distance himself from those comments. 

Listening to him, it sounds as if he and the club tiptoed around each other without ever really addressing issues head on.

‘It was quite difficult – I look like a bad person because of all the negative stuff around me,’ Toure says. 

‘It’s not right to say I’m a bad person. At that time I didn’t want to respond because, for me, football was the most important. My target was: don’t try to get disturbed by these situations.

‘I think it should have been handled better, to be honest. You have to surround yourself with able people. A lot of stuff could be better. 

Toure pictured with his agent Dimitri Seluk, who came with a reputation as a mischief maker

‘People were taking what Dimitri was saying and then putting it together with me, creating an atmosphere like I was complaining about the cake or whatever.’

Yes, the cake. The infamous cake of 2014. Seluk whipped up a real treat with a cherry on top there. 

Briefly: the Russian advisor outlandishly complained that nobody at City wished his client a proper happy 31st birthday. 

Toure, who was given a cake aboard a flight to a post-season tour, seemed to publicly denounce Seluk before then backing him an hour later. A messy afternoon.

That came days after a second title win, his best season at the club under Manuel Pellegrini, who had made him vice-captain. 

‘We had that freedom to play,’ he says. ‘I was always happy at City but Pellegrini was perfect for me. I fitted the system. They played around me. My mind was clear.’

Relations truly soured between Seluk and City once Guardiola pitched up in 2016. Seluk flipped his lid when Toure was not picked in the Champions League squad, the midfielder placed in exiled until he apologised. 

There were pre-existing difficulties between manager and player from their time together at Barcelona and Toure waited months for an appearance. 

Toure says he enjoyed City’s 2013-14 title-winning season under manager Manuel Pellegrini

The midfielder netted twice away at Crystal Palace as City closed in on the title that season

He scored twice away at Crystal Palace in his first game back and became a crucial cog towards the end of Guardiola’s debut year, earning a new contract before barely featuring in the Centurions campaign.

Then came the serious allegations that Toure severely regrets. Allegations that he may never recover from – at least while Guardiola is in situ. 

For all the talk of City legends amid Sergio Aguero’s exit and the striker’s statue alongside Kompany and David Silva, Toure’s story feels like one that could have ended in a far more satisfactory manner.

‘People write my name as being there at the start of the change for this club,’ he says. ‘For me, that is more than enough. I will always be delighted to be part of this club. I was there at the beginning of United’s fall.’




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