ASEC academy director Jean-Marc Guillou brought Yaya to Belgium, along with a number of other talented young Ivorians. But it was Yaya who stood out from the crowd, a tall, thin teenager, known for his quiet and dedicated approach to the game.
Daniel Stuer, the club’s fitness coach, recalls Yaya’s maturity despite his young age. “He was professional from the beginning. Others were not, to them it was all a game. After matches Yaya didn’t go out for beers. He just wanted to go home. He watched TV, football and more football. He lived with others in the beginning but they would go out, come back late and disturb him. So he asked to live alone.”