Man City's Yaya Toure retires from international football with Ivory Coast
Yaya Toure has announced his international retirement from Ivory Coast duty after a 12-year career in which he won 102 caps.
Toure, 33, was the captain of his national team and led the country to their second-ever African Nations Cup title in 2015.
The Manchester City midfielder was expected to skipper the team in Gabon in January as he began the defence of their crown, but he has instead chosen to quit international football.
He said on his official website: "Writing this note was probably 'the most difficult match of my life.' After 14 years at the highest level, I'm sure this is the right time for me! The fact that I am 33 now, the intensity of training and the multitude of games are not the reasons why I am making this decision.
"Football is everything to me and it gave me so much in my career that I no longer feel able to set myself new goals as a player with the Elephants of Ivory Coast.
"This decision I have made has come gradually, it has slowly matured in my head. I definitely thought it necessary to wait until the qualifying stages for the next AFCON [African Nations Cup] were over. It was also important for me that I do not disturb the dynamics of the national team."
Toure made his debut for the Ivory Coast in 2004, and replaced Didier Drogba as captain when the striker retired following the 2014 World Cup.
He played in all three of Ivory Coast's World Cup appearances, in 2006, 2010 and 2014, as well we appearing in six African Nations Cups -- including when they were runners-up in 2006 and 2012, before being triumphant in 2015.
The former Barcelona player was named in the African Nations Cup team of the tournament in 2008, 2012 and 2015, and was African Footballer of the Year on four consecutive occasions from 2011.
"I look back to the victory in 2015. It came as a big 'phew!' It was a relief," Toure added. "Finally the Ivorian people claimed their cup after so many years.
"Our generation had accomplished its mission and it was a great reward for all Ivorians, who never stopped thanking us. I would ask them [now] for their understanding. And ask them, as we say, to give me 'part of the road.'"
He has fallen out of favour at Man City this season under new coach Pep Guardiola, and has only featured in the matchday squad for the second leg of the Champions League playoff against Steaua Bucharest, playing the full 90 minutes, with the team 5-0 up.
"I can still bring a lot to the players, to the youth of my country and to the African continent and to the world," Toure added. "I would like to give the children what football has given me. Football gave me a lot. It taught me many things, things of life. This is one of the most important lessons in my life. Thank you! God bless you!"
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