• Premier League

Toure: City refused me time off while brother was dying

ESPN staff
June 24, 2014
Toure is currently captaining Ivory Coast at the World Cup in Brazil © Getty Images

Yaya Toure has made the extraordinary claim that Manchester City refused him time off while his brother was dying.

Ibrahim Toure passed away at the age of just 28 last Thursday while his two older brothers, Yaya and Liverpool defender Kolo, were in Brazil as members of Ivory Coast's World Cup squad.

The midfielder said he is unhappy that City forced him to go on a post-season tour to the United Arab Emirates.

City have declined to comment on the claim but are one of the least likely clubs to have been unsympathetic when one of their players was struggling with personal problems. They granted time off to Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor and to Pablo Zabaleta in recent years for compassionate reasons.

"I confess that I am still very sad," Toure told France Football. "I'm suffering because I feel I have done nothing useful for him the last few weeks.

"At the end of the season, I wanted to stay for four or five days with my brother before I flew to prepare for the World Cup with Ivory Coast, except that City did not want to give me a few days. I went to celebrate the title championship in Abu Dhabi while my brother was in his sickbed.

ESPN understands that City did not receive any request from Toure for compassionate leave and have been on hand to support the midfielder during Ibrahim's battle with cancer and since his death. They are believed also to have given their support to the family and been in contact with former player Kolo Toure, contributing to funeral arrangements.

There appears to be an understanding at City for Toure's situation but his allegation could be damaging nonethless.

"By fortune, Kolo was at his [Ibrahim's] bedside. After that I blame myself for not insisting and for not leading them to respect me," Yaya Toure said.

"Club officials knew that I had been suffering for a few months seeing the health of my brother decline. This is the reason I had several injuries at the end of the season, because my head had taken control of my body. These last four months have probably been the hardest in my life.

"I have had sporting success, except that when you get home and you find yourself facing the distress of someone you love, but you do not know how you can help, it¹s not good."

Toure said he considered coming home from the World Cup to see Ibrahim, who was also a professional footballer, but their father advised him to stay.

"For sure, doctors had left me with very little hope when I had left for the World Cup," Toure said. "During those days, he could not even respond to my calls, he was so tired.

"I also felt that brother Ismael and my sister Aicha, who had stayed with him in Manchester, were not telling me everything the last few days. Despite that, in these cases we always try and hold on to a miracle.

"The news came as a huge shock because I was very close to him. We spent two years apart but we were very close. As kids we always stuck together and we played in the famous local tournaments that were never-ending.

"I wonder how I'll cope without him. I know that I will no longer be able to hear him, sense him, see him, this feels awful, especially when you¹re thousands of kilometres away.

"Luckily, I have Kolo with me. More than once, he has played big brother to me, finding the words to comfort me, keep me strong, talk to me.

"At one point, we thought about leaving Brazil for Manchester to see Ibrahim one last time. But our father advised against it and we listened."

Toure's relationship with City, for whom he has played since 2010, has appeared to breakdown since his agent claimed the 31-year-old was unhappy the Premier League champions did not do enough to celebrate his birthday in Abu Dhabi.

City are adamant that is not the case and there has been no conflict since the bizarre episode, with the club reportedly confident that the latest, more serious claim will not prove to be the breaking point in their relationship with Toure.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
ESPN staff Close