Yaya Toure is named Caf African Player of the Year

Yaya Toure has been named the 2011 African Footballer of the Year by the Confederation of African Football.

The Ivory Coast and Manchester City player held off competition from Seydou Keita, the Mali and Barcelona midfielder, and Ghana's Andre Ayew, who plays for Olympique Marseille.

Toure, 28, was chosen by coaches of national teams on the continent.

It's unbelievable, it's amazing. It's a first step in my big career

Yaya Toure

"This is the highest prize I can get in my career," said Toure, who has helped City to the top of the Premier League.

He also scored the only goal of the game as Manchester City beat Stoke to win the FA Cup in May.

An emotional Toure said he was proud to have received the honour on "a special day for me", and he hopes the honour will spur the Ivory Coast on as they look for a second Nations Cup title next year.

"In a few months we will look for the Africa Cup of Nations which is very important for me and my country," he said.

"But for now I am very happy and very proud - it's unbelievable, it's amazing. It's a first step in my big career."

Toure's triumph capped a fine night for Ivory Coast who also scooped the referee of the year award, which went to Noumandiez Doue.

Tottenham youngster Souleymane Coulibaly won the Most Promising Talent. Esperance's Oussama Darragi was named the African-based Player of the Year.

Niger and Botswana's qualification for their debut Nations Cup next year was recognised in different categories. Niger's Harouna Doula was named coach of the year while Botswana took the Africa team of the Year.

Cameroon were named the female team of the year with the female African Player of the Year crown going to Nigeria's Perpetua Nkwoche .