Born on May 13, 1983, in Bouaké, Ivory Coast, Yaya Touré’s career flourished on the backdrop of growing up in war-torn Abijan.

Getting to where he is today wasn’t all smooth sailing. About his childhood, he says he had a normal African childhood. But Manchester City and Ivory Coast’s play-maker says: “We played football a lot, but it was always in the street and always without shoes.

“Boots were very expensive, and when there are seven in your family and you say you want to buy a pair, your father wants to kill you.”

His story is certainly different now, through his talent he has made his mark in European football and has earned respect and admiration in the hearts and minds of many.

Yaya began his European soccer career in Belgium in 2001, but he rose to prominence when he signed for Spanish giants, FC Barcelona in 2007. He formed part of a galaxy of stars at the Catalan team that won an unprecedented six trophies during the 2009 calendar year.

It was his brave move that raised eye-brows when he left Barcelona in 2010 and opted to join his brother Kolo at Manchester City. He became fan-favourite when he scored the lone goal in the 2011 FA Cup final to give City its first major title in 35 years, and then led the club to its first Premier League championship in 44 years the following season.

Equally in his home country, Yaya won the African Footballer of the Year Award for the second consecutive time in 2012.

For the Man-City midfielder, the World Cup in Brazil offers much more than a chance for Ivory Coast’s golden generation to finally deliver on their potential for greatness. He says: “We have an amazing squad of players and we all think it is about time we reach our full potential.

“When I look around and see players like Drogba, Kalou, Bony, Gervinho and Zokora, I can only be filled with confidence. Why we haven’t gone on to win a trophy is something I can’t understand. We want and we hope we make it soon because some of us haven’t got a lot of time left to be winners.”

Once the most expensive player in English football, Yaya will fly the African flag high come the June 12 kick-off in Brazil.

– By Tshepo Tsheole