Four-time African footballer of the year Yaya Toure of the Ivory Coast announced his retirement from international football on Tuesday.
The 33-year-old Manchester City midfielder — capped 113 times — said it had been an incredibly difficult decision.
“Writing this note was probably ‘the most difficult match of my life’,” wrote Toure.
“After 14 years at the highest level, I’m sure this is the right time for me! The fact that I am 33 now, the intensity of training and the multitude of games are not the reasons why I am making this decision.”
Toure, part of the golden generation of Ivory Coast players such as Didier Drogba, his brother Kolo Toure and Gervinho, said for all his success at club level, including a Champions League with Barcelona in 2009, it was finally winning the Africa Cup of Nations in 2015 — their first since 1992 — that remained his most precious memory.
Toure, who made his Ivory Coast debut in 2004, captained the victorious ‘Elephants’ side having replaced Drogba as skipper when the latter finally called it a day at international level after the 2014 World Cup.
“I would like to say solemnly that I am stopping!!!” said Toure.
“It’s true that I had several titles at clubs, national cups, league trophies.
“I played in Belgium, Ukraine, Greece, France and in Spain where I was able to win the prestigious Champions League with Barca in 2009 and also in England, where I continue to play.
“With the Elephants, it was even more special. I learned to win for my country. That’s why I will always retain the pride in having achieved four African Golden Balls for the Ivory Coast.”