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Yaya Toure: The karate kid turned footballer

If things had worked out differently, Ivory Coast’s Yaya Toure – who was crowned the BBC African Footballer of the Year for a second time – might have been a karate star.

That was the sport the Manchester City midfielder was into while a kid and one he may well have excelled at had his father not blocked it.

“He went to learn karate before he took up football, which he didn’t play at the time,” Mory Toure, Yaya’s father, told BBC Sport.

“Within one week, he did so well he was selected to travel for a competition in Kenya.”

However, his ambitions were swiftly nipped in the bud by his father, who banned Yaya from travelling because he feared him suffering injury or worse so soon after taking up the sport.

“I used to fight a lot with my brothers, so my dad said he would put me in a sport that would calm me down – and karate did,” Yaya himself told BBC Sport with a smile.

Yet Toure senior relates the tale about karate to highlight the range of his son’s abilities, which he says extend far and wide.

“One time I brought him to the village and put him in Koranic school because it was the holidays,” says the 69-year-old, who is now retired after a lengthy career in the army.

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