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Saturday 16 December 2017

Yaya Toure: 'Forget the Champions League, winning the African Cup of Nations is my biggest honour'

Ivory Coast's midfielder Yaya Toure raises the trophy at the end of the 2015 African Cup of Nations final football match between Ivory Coast and Ghana in Bata on February 8, 2015. Ivory Coast won 9 to 8 on penalties. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKIKHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
Ivory Coast's midfielder Yaya Toure raises the trophy at the end of the 2015 African Cup of Nations final football match between Ivory Coast and Ghana in Bata on February 8, 2015. Ivory Coast won 9 to 8 on penalties. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKIKHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
Ivory Coast's national football team captain Yaya Toure receives the cup from president of Guinea Equatorial Obiang Nguema (R) at the end of the 2015 African Cup of Nations final football match between Ivory Coast and Ghana in Bata on February 8, 2015
Ivory Coast's squad (top L-R) defender Serge Aurier, defender Serge Wilfried Kanon, defender Kolo Toure, defender Eric Bailly, forward Wilfried Bony, (bottom L-R) defender Siaka Tiene, midfielder Serey Die, goalkeeper Boubacar Barry, midfielder Yaya Toure, midfielder Max-Alain Gradel and forward Gervinho pose for a group picture ahead of the 2015 African Cup of Nations final football match between Ivory Coast and Ghana in Bata on February 8, 2015. Ivory Coast won 9-8 on penalties after the final ended 0-0 following extra time

Yaya Toure claimed winning the African Nations Cup with Ivory Coast was better than any of the long list of honours he has achieved at club level.

Toure, whose resume includes two La Liga titles and a Champions League crown with Barcelona, plus two Premier League titles and an FA Cup at Manchester City, was part of the Ivory Coast team which eventually triumphed over Ghana on penalties on Sunday night.

It ends years of frustration for Toure, who has played in six editions of the tournament and finished as a runner-up in 2006 and 2012.

"I cannot express my happiness," the Ivory Coast captain said on the tournament website. "When you win a title with your club, it is amazing but with the country, it is unbelievable.

"I have been dreaming of this moment throughout my eight years in the national team. I have been waiting for this moment. We failed twice in 2006 and 2012.

"I'm very delighted and I want to thank all who have inspired and motivated us."

The match finished goalless after 120 minutes, with all the drama reserved for the penalty shootout.

Ghana moved into a 2-0 lead, but Ivory Coast held their nerve and eventually turned it around to win 9-8.

It is a second tournament title for their head coach Herve Renard, who was also a winner on penalties with Zambia when they beat Ivory Coast in 2012.

"I'm lucky to win twice on penalties," he said. "I am very happy for this team. The 'never give up' spirit in the team was the most important factor. This victory is for all Ivorians."

Ghana coach Avram Grant praised his team in defeat, telling Ghanaians they could be proud of the players.

"I'm so proud of my team and they always make me happy," he said. "To reach the final is a big achievement. The players have shown a lot of good things at this tournament.

"We were the better side against a team that has some of the best players around. It was down to penalties and the opponent scored one more than us.

"Every Ghanaian can be proud of this team."

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