Nigeria players, John Mikel Obi and Victor Moses, lost the BBC African Footballer of the Year award on Monday. An honour for either of the Nigerians would have seen the winner follow in the footsteps of senior compatriot Austin Okocha who won the award in 2003 and 2004.
Obi, Moses, Jonathan Pitroipa, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Yaya Toure had been shorlisted for the award last month but it was Toure, the Ivorian that carted away the plaudit.
The Ivory Coast and Manchester City midfielder had been nominated in each of the past four years.
The 30-year-old told BBC Sport: “I think I’ve been nominated for five years in a row and finally winning the award is amazing.
“It’s a fantastic achievement because I don’t think there has ever been as many quality African players in top level international football as there are now: Aubameyang, Pitroipa, Mikel, Moses, Salomon Kalou, Gervinho… we have fantastic players.
“I also think African football is improving and that means a lot to us. And as an African, I’m very happy.”
The shortlist for the award was drawn up by 44 football experts across Africa, who based their choices on players’ skill, technical ability, teamwork, consistency and fair play.
A record number of fans then voted for their favourite either online or by text message.
And those fans have considered Toure to be the standout African player over the past year, in recognition of the Ivorian’s displays of power, pace, creativity and goals.
Toure said: “Thank you to all the fans around the world who continue to support me. It shows how much fans love you and appreciate your job as well.
“It’s something special because it’s not the vote of the manager or the club or the captain of the national team, it’s just the fans,” he added.