Ivorian midfielder Yaya Toure has been crowned the African Player of the Year 2011 at a colourful ceremony in Accra, Ghana. Toure, 28, was chosen by coaches of national teams on the continent. “This is the highest prize I can get in my career,” said Toure, who has helped City to the top of the Premier League.
The 28-year old pipped Ghanaian midfielder Andre Ayew and Malian Seydou Keita to scoop the topmost honour at the Awards Gala on Thursday at the Banquet Hall, State House in Accra.
The hardworking midfielder, who plays for English side Manchester City gained the highest votes in the poll decided by votes from the Head Coaches or Technical Directors of the National Associations affiliated to CAF.
The honour caps a wonderful year for the midfield maestro who has been in scintillating form for club and country. Toure is winning the topmost individual honour in African football for the first time and he joins compatriot Didier Drogba as the only Ivorians to have laid claim to the award since its inception in 1992.
The coronation of the midfielder was the climax of the ceremony attended by the crème de la crème of African footballers, officials and administrators. Ghana’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Clement Kofi Humado graced the event just as CAF President Issa Hayatou and members of the CAF Executive Commitee.
The African Player of the Year (based in Africa) award went to Tunisian midfielder Oussama Darragi. The Esperance captain beat his teammate Yaya Banana of Cameroon and compatriot Zouheir Dhaouadi of Club African to the prize.
Super Falcons captain Perpetua Nkwocha was adjudged Women’s Footballer of the Year for an unprecedented fourth time. The 35-year old Nigerian had previously won the award in 2004, 2005 and 2010.
It was triple delight for Cote d’Ivoire after teenage striker Souleymane Coulibaly was named Most Promising Talent of the Year and Noumandiez Doue as Referee of the Year.
Niger coach Harouna Doula picked the prize for best coach whilst Africa Cup of Nations debutants Botswana saw their efforts in the qualifying series being rewarded with National Team of the Year gong. The Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroon were also named Women’s National Team of the Year.
CAF Champions League winners’ Esperance Sportive de Tunis was adjudged Club of the Year whilst Libya grabbed the Fair Play award.
Former internationals Mustapha Hadji of Morocco and Austin ‘Jay-Jay’Okocha of Nigeria were presented with Legends Awards in recognition of their contribution to the development of the game over the years.
The ceremony sponsored by telecommunications giants, Globacom left the guests in awe with its rich display of culture, acrobatics and musical performance. There were also musical performances from Ghanaian hi-life sensation Kwabena Kwabena and young songstress, Efya, both from Ghana.
Beninois Zeynab also added some colour to the event just as South Africa duo Gloria Bosman and Loyiso Bala and Kenyan acrobatic tumbling group, ‘Troop Agile’.
This is the third time the award was being staged in Ghana after 2006 and 2009.
African Player of the Year 2011
Yaya Toure (Manchester City and Cote d’Ivoire)
African Player of the Year 2011 (Based in Africa)
Oussama Darragi (Esperance Sportive de Tunis and Tunisia)
National Team of the Year
Women’s National Team of the Year
Club of the Year
Esperance Sportive de Tunis (Tunisia)
Most Promising Talent of the Year
Souleymane Coulibaly (Tottenham Hotspurs and Cote d’Ivoire)
Coach of the Year
Harouna Doula (Niger)
Women’s Footballer of the Year
Perpetua Nkwocha (Nigeria)
Referee of the Year
Noumandiez Doue (Cote d’Ivoire)
Mustapha Hadji (Morocco)
Austin ‘Jay-Jay’ Okocha (Nigeria)
Fair Play Award
John Evans Atta Mills (President of Ghana)
Africa’s Finest XI
Goalkeeper: Samir Aboud (Libya)
Defenders: Harrison Afful (Ghana), Banana Yaya (Cameroon), Ayoub Elkhiqi (Morocco), Taye Taiwo (Nigeria)
Midfielder: Kevin Prince Boateng (Ghana), Yaya Toure (Cote d’Ivoire), Seydou Keita (Mali), Andre Ayew (Ghana)
Forward: Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon), Moussa Sow (Senegal)