Published on March 4th, 2014 | by Ian Cheeseman


Yaya Toure; the new Colin Bell?

Colin Bell was my boyhood hero, but I can’t deny (though maybe I should) that I’ve got a bit of a man crush on Yaya Toure. Maybe I’m drawn to goalscoring midfielders, because there are some similarities between Bell and Toure.

Colin scored many beautiful, crucial goals, just like Yaya does, and both have a rare, athletic ability when moving forward with the ball. I used to feel that when Colin Bell played well, so did City, and of course you could say the same about Yaya Toure.

There are differences too. Colin was nicknamed Nijinsky, after the racehorse, renowned for her stamina, that won everything in 1969 and 1970, just as Colin was winning everything too.

Yaya can be every bit as athletic as Colin was, though probably not covering quite as much ground as the King did, over ninety minutes.

Here is an example of a great Colin Bell goal, in which he scored an exquisite volley during the 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge back in October 1970.

If you want to see Yaya Toure at his greatest, you only have to look at the stunner he scored at Wembley, to equalise against Sunderland. Did he mean it? Of course he did, every inch of it.

Bell and Toure both had/have something other players don’t. TV reality programmes would have you believe that every kid, who can just about hold a note, has the X Factor, but that doesn’t do that expression justice. Bell and Toure have the X Factor. I’m not suggesting they’re the only ones, of course, Samir Nasri’s goal was every bit as special as Yaya’s, and I think it’s safe to say that Sergio Aguero has the “X Factor” too.

The Wembley man-of-the-match was awarded to Nasri, and I have no argument with that, but Yaya Toure is the player that “made the difference” for me. I’m not sure I really have idols like I used to as a kid. I certainly haven’t got posters of the Ivorian on my bedroom wall, as I once did of Colin, but if I was pushed, I’d single out Yaya as my favourite player of the last few years.

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As usual, I spent the build up to the big game out on Wembley Way, chatting to fans on BBC Radio Manchester, then it was inside for commentary with Fred Eyre and Shaun Goater, followed by a dash pitch side, to grab an interview with the heroes as they left the pitch.

It was great to be able to have a word with Manuel Pellegrini, and it seems I was seen “grasping the moment” on TV, as well as being heard on the radio!

After the players had left the pitch, as the last few fans made their way outside the stadium, I noticed that the League Cup was being passed around by some of the back room staff, for their own pictures.

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I couldn’t resist, I asked if someone would take a picture of me holding the trophy. What a thrill, an honour and something I’ll never forget, from a very special day at Wembley.

Collin Bell missed out on my first League Cup Final, back in 1976, after suffering that (effectively) career ending injury, but he was part of the team that won the trophy in 1970, the year his namesake Nijinsky won the Triple Crown of the 2,000 Guineas, St Leger and Epsom Derby.

I wonder if the “Colin Bell of 2014”, Yaya Toure, might also be on course for a triple crown very soon?

– Ian Cheeseman

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