(Reuters) - Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure landed his third successive African Footballer of the Year award on Thursday to cap a memorable week.
The Manchester City player edged out Nigeria’s John Obi Mikel and fellow Ivorian Didier Drogba to make it a hat-trick of wins, emulating Abedi Pele and Samuel Eto‘o.
Just 24 hours after storming halfway down the pitch to score a goal in City’s 6-0 demolition of West Ham United in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final, a teary-eyed Toure was the toast of African football as he picked up the award at a gala ceremony in Lagos.
“I‘m very proud and happy to be the winner today,” Toure, dressed in traditional Nigerian robes, told the audience.
“I congratulate my brother Obi Mikel who deserved it as well. It’s an unbelievable award for all those who helped me through my career a lot and those who supported me for a long time.”
The Ivorian came top of a poll voted by Africa’s national team coaches, who had Mikel second and Drogba third.
Toure’s success came at the end of a bleak 12-month period for individual achievement by African footballers. Toure’s official citation praised him for his role in helping the Ivorians to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil but the choice is more likely for his consistency at club level in England and the dominant role he plays at Manchester City.
Chelsea’s Mikel was on the shortlist after helping Nigeria to the African Nations Cup title in February.
Toure joins an elite club following his hat-trick of wins.
Ghanaian Abedi Pele won three in a row between 1991-93 while Cameroonian Eto‘o took the award from 2003-05.
Eto‘o, who plays up front for Chelsea, also won it in 2010.
Reporting by Mark Gleeson, editing by Pritha Sarkar