LONDON (AFP) - Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure insists he does not get enough respect from the rest of the football world because he is African.
The Ivory Coast international has won league titles in England and Spain and is on the six-man shortlist for the Professional Footballers' Association's player of the season award.
But the 30-year-old former Barcelona star echoed City team-mate Samir Nasri's claim that only his birthplace has blocked him from being hailed as one of the best midfielders in the world.
"I think what Samir was saying was definitely true," Toure told BBC Sport.
"To be honest, proper recognition has only come from the fans. I don't want to be hard and I don't want to be negative, but I want to be honest."
Toure's fellow Ivory Coast star Didier Drogba and Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o have also reached the top level of European football and Toure has taken inspiration from the way they have risen to the top despite humble beginnings.
"Those players are more than legends for me and Africa," he said.
"I am very proud to be African, I want to defend African people and I want to show to the world that African players can be as good as the Europeans and South Americans."
Luis Suarez is a widespread odds-on favourite for the PFA award, with Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard and Chelsea's Eden Hazard also ahead of Toure in the betting.
But the City star said he would "definitely" be unhappy to miss out, adding: "As a champion, as a winner, I always want to win."