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Black History Month: The Brothers Touré

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The Touré Brothers were one of a few in history that dominated together for club and country.

Manchester City v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

The Ivory Coast has had some terrific world class players over the years. Two of those players just happened to be brothers who both became highly regarded as some of the world’s best at their position. Yaya Touré and Kolo Touré, born just a couple years apart, became two linchpins on the Ivorian national team and, at a couple points, also played together on the club level.

Kolo Touré was the older brother, while Yaya was born just a couple years later. They both got their start for ASEC Mimosas, an Ivorian team in the nation’s economic capital of Abijdan. Kolo was first on the youth team at centerback, while Yaya joined him on that team as a midfielder before Kolo was promoted to the first team in 1999. At that point, Kolo was also a member of the national team, using his service at Mimosas to eventually join Arsenal in 2002.

Meanwhile, Yaya began his professional career in Belgium, moving to Beveren in 2001. From there, he moved to Ukraine to play for Metalurh Donetsk, and then going to Olympiacos. It was around then that he joined his older brother on the Ivorian national team. His rise went from slow and steady to meteoric around this time, and in 2007, he signed with Barcelona for €10 million.

Kolo played with Arsenal for 7 years, playing a major role in Arsenal’s unbeaten season in 2003-2004. He also was one of the better players for the Ivory Coast, joining guys like Didier Drogba and Emmanuel Eboué to form the main core of the team. In 2009, Kolo joined Manchester City, and Yaya joined him at the Etihad a year later from the Camp Nou. It was at that point that Yaya’s rise to superstardom accelerated, and with Kolo holding down the middle of the back line, Manchester City won the league title in 2011. It was their first league title in 43 years, and for Kolo, he became one of 8 players to win the Premier League with 2 clubs.

Kolo and Yaya’s partnership and brotherhood for both Manchester City and the Ivory Coast helped both teams excel. Their play was adored by Manchester City fans, who came up with a song that spread like wildfire:

Kolo Touré left Manchester City in 2013 for Liverpool, while Yaya stayed and became arguably one of the best midfielders on the planet. On the national team level, they remained as regular starters for Les Éléphants, and together they helped the Ivory Coast to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations title. It was after that tournament that Kolo Touré announced his retirement from international soccer.

The two brothers are among the most decorated set of brothers in world history. In addition to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, Kolo won 2 Premier League titles, 2 FA Cups (1 each with Arsenal and Manchester City), 3 Community Shields, and 2 Scottish Premierships with Celtic FC. Yaya won a Greece Super League and a Greek Cup with Olympiacos; 2 La Liga titles, 1 Copa del Rey, 1 Spanish Supercup, 1 UEFA Champions League, 1 UEFA Super Cup, and a FIFA Club World Cup with Barcelona; 3 Premier Leagues, 1 FA Cup, 2 League Cups, and a Community Shield with Manchester City, and even helped Qingdao Huanghai earn promotion to the Chinese Super League in 2019. Yaya also won numerous individual awards, including 4 striaght African Footballer of the Year awards and was a member of 7 CAF Teams of the Year. He was also named to the FIFPro World XI 2nd team in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Kolo and Yaya Touré were both world class talents, and together they took the world by storm. There may have been numerous siblings who have made it to the world stage, but few dominated like Kolo and Yaya Touré did together, both for club and country.

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For more Black History Month stories, check out our Black History Month hub. We will be bringing a story each day this month to highlight some of the biggest moments in black American and world soccer history.