Yaya Toure sees bias in recognition
Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure feels he does not get the respect he deserves because he is from Africa.
The Ivory Coast international has won league titles in England, Spain and Greece as well as his homeland, is a key figure in City's push for more silverware and is on the six-man shortlist for the Professional Footballers' Association's player of the season award.
And the 30-year-old echoed club colleague Samir Nasri's claim that only his birthplace has blocked him from being hailed as one of the best midfielders in the world.
"I think what Samir was saying was definitely true," Toure told BBC Sport.
"To be honest, proper recognition has only come from the fans. I don't want to be hard and I don't want to be negative, but I want to be honest."
Compatriot Didier Drogba and Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o have also reached the top level of European football and Toure said: "Those players are more than legends for me and Africa.
"I am very proud to be African, I want to defend African people and I want to show to the world that African players can be as good as the Europeans and South Americans."
Toure also said that while a star like Lionel Messi is recognised worldwide as a top player, those from Africa are not.
"If you go to any part of Africa now, people will say, 'Yes, we know [Messi]', but when you come to Europe and say 'Yaya Toure' people will say, 'Who is that?'" Toure said. "Some will say they know my name but not know my face. But they will know Messi's face."
Luis Suarez is a widespread odds-on favourite for the PFA award as the top player in English football, with Liverpool teammate Steven Gerrard and Chelsea's Eden Hazard also ahead of Toure in betting odds.
But the City star said he would "definitely" be unhappy to miss out, adding: "As a champion, as a winner, I always want to win."