YAYA TOURE is my Player of the Season, and I am grateful to Manchester City for making my decision a little easier to announce. City’s title success means my choice as No 1 player is also a champion which, in an ideal world, is how it should be. The football writers and the players chose Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and I have to say I was slightly surprised in both cases.
Toure shaded it in my book because, unlike Suarez, he complements his outstanding ability by being unblemished in his integrity on the pitch. I know that some journalists were erring on the side of Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard, because of their concerns over Suarez’s dubious attitude, and that several players have complained about his serial attempts to con referees.
I recently watched a YouTube compilation of Suarez’s litany of misdemeanours, including some shocking examples of diving, late fouls, biting and raking of players’ achilles tendons. It is such a shame because here is a player who, talent-wise, would grace any team in the world. His 31 league goals is a tremendous achievement which almost carried Liverpool to their first Premier League title. But I could not, in all conscience, give my award to a player whose honesty on the field is in question. Lionel Messi doesn’t behave like that, nor did great forwards like Pele and Eusebio.
Toure, on the other hand, is a marvellous example of what being a top footballer is all about. He conducts himself admirably on and off the pitch – and he is an awesome performer, possessed with strength, speed, skill, shooting power and such versatility. Here is a guy who can operate with equal effectiveness as a loose forward, a holding midfielder or a centre-half. Toure, who scored 20 goals from midfield – some of them simply sensational – is 31 tomorrow. Long may he reign at the heart of City’s team.