ACCRA (AFP) – Ivorian Yaya Toure of Manchester City won Africa’s top football honour on Thursday, beating out his countryman Didier Drogba and Alexandre Song of Cameroon for the CAF player of the year award.
Toure, 29, claimed the prize for the second consecutive year, capping a season where he helped guide his club to the English Premier League title, their first in 44 years.
His crucial double against Newcastle in May made for a dramatic chapter in City’s championship bid as the club ultimately edged out bitter rival Manchester United on goal differential in a nailbitting finish.
The giant midfielder appeared to tear up as his name was called at the ceremony in Ghana’s capital.
“I have a lot of emotion,” he said after climbing the stage to accept the award. “I think this night is so special for me.”
He has been praised by City’s manager Roberto Mancini for his ability to fill so many roles.
Toure has voiced hope of a prolonged stay at the club and has predicted that more titles could be on the way.
He also remains a crucial component of the Ivory Coast national side, a perennial contender for the African Cup of Nations crown.
Ivory Coast narrowly lost to Zambia at the last continental tournament, reaching the final thanks in part to strong play from Toure, who said the side will have to win some hard contests if it hopes to reclaim the cup.
“I think this year is going to be tough. I think there’s going to be a fight to be at the top,” he said after accepting the award.
Toure’s second CAF honour came on a night when Drogba, the former Chelsea star now playing Shanghai Shenhua, was in line for his third win.
Drogba was seeking to take a step closer to Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o’s record four trophies but described his fellow Ivorian as a deserving winner who has played with impressive “consistency over the last two years.”
“Being in competition against Yaya and Alex was for me very difficult,” said the striker. “For me, I don’t mind if Yaya wins. I’m very proud.”
Song, a 25-year-old up-and-coming midfielder, was nominated for the first time this year, after a season that included strong play for Arsenal before his transfer to Barcelona.