FA Cup legends: Yaya Toure
- 03 May 2013 11:11
- Posted by @porter_mcfc
Always a man for the big occasion, Yaya Toure’s name is inexorably linked with the FA Cup.
Vital goals in the semi-final and final of the Blues’ historic pursuit of the trophy in 2011 have left the Ivorian midfielder relishing a date at Wembley.
He explained: “Personally, when these sort of matches come along, I just dig deep and do the best I can and perform to my optimum levels.
“Wembley is a very special place for me and I have some great memories from our last FA Cup run, particularly the semi-final and final for obvious reasons so I hope I can experience more great moments this season.”
Two years with Barcelona immediately preceded his arrival at the Eithad Stadium, and the 29-year-old picked up a Champions League medal during his time with the Catalan giants, as well as two La Liga titles, the FIFA Club World Cup, the UEFA Super Cup and the Copa del Rey.
A vital cog in the centre of the park for the Blues, his winning mentality has been all too obvious under Roberto Mancini from his first season in Manchester.
Far from a sunny spring day at Wembley, Yaya’s love affair with this competition began on a Tuesday night in January.
Just about earning a replay in Leicester ten days previously, City hosted the Foxes in Manchester looking for a more convincing performance. The side duly delivered, seeing off the visitors 4-2.
In the fifth round, Yaya led from the front and had his first FA Cup goal within five minutes of kick off against Aston Villa, and set up Mario Balotelli 20 minutes later with a magnificent 40-yard through ball for the Italian to race on to before rounding Brad Friedel.
A starter in every FA Cup fixture since his first appearance against Leicester, Yaya's big game reputation would be well and truly established come the semi-final, and City's first Wembley appearance since the dramatic Second Division Play-off Final in 1999.
An extra frisson was added to an already tasty occasion when the opponents were announced as neighbours Manchester United, and tickets were scarce as Blues piled south to London to noisily cheer on their side.
It was a tight Mancunian affair in the London sunshine, and United had exerted some early dominance before Mancini’s men settled into their stride.
Intercepting the ball from Michael Carrick, Yaya surged forward to smack the ball past Van der Sar and send the Blue half of the stadium into delirium.
City would be back for the final, their local rivals deservedly beaten in style, and so would Yaya.
In the 74th minute of a game in which the Blues had thoroughly dominated but failed to find the net, Balotelli and David Silva had shots blocked before City’s hero seized the ball to fire into the same net as his winner against United.
Two strikes in successive games had brought City’s first major trophy since 1976, and Yaya had stitched his name into the fabric of City, and FA Cup, history.
Afterwards, he enthused: "It's fantastic. Winning the FA Cup is so important for our fans, and it's amazing."
But like all natural winners, Yaya simply isn’t satisfied with an impressive existing haul, and is continually searching for more glory and silverware.
“When I first arrived at City every time I went to sleep I would dream about us winning something; now it is about us being the best team in whatever competition we take part in.”
Winning plaudits for another dominant Wembley performance against Chelsea at Wembley last month, the younger Toure has added another goal to his FA Cup tally this season – finishing off a delicious passing move against Leeds.
Now that Yaya has committed his future to the Blues by signing a new four-year deal, there will hopefully be much more to come in this competition from the man Roberto Mancini believes is the best he has ever signed.