Emmanuel Adebayor has issued a withering condemnation of Tottenham Hotspur’s fans over their attitude to him, describing them as a “joke”.
Adebayor was heavily criticised by Tottenham fans for taking five days to return to London following Togo’s elimination from the Africa Cup of Nations this month, but the striker said the supporters’ behaviour was laughable.
Referring to the armed attack on Togo’s team bus in Angola three years ago, Adebayor implied Tottenham’s followers should develop a sense of what is important in life.
He said: “I’ve seen people dying in front of me. I’ve seen people with guns so I take 30,000 people abusing me as a joke. It’s a part of life. I’m used to it already. I get a tough time but I have to keep going because I could have been worse.”
Togo went out of the Africa Cup of Nations on Feb 3 but Adebayor did not return to England until five days later, less than 24 hours before Tottenham’s game against Newcastle.
Adebayor said the delay was the result of a request that he and the rest of the Togo team visit their president, who wanted to acknowledge their achievement in reaching the quarter-finals. “I was just trying to help my team-mates in the national team,” the striker said.
“We went out on the Sunday, then we tried to find a plane to go to Togo to see the family and the president. It took us four days to get a plane. On Thursday I had to call the president [Faure Gnassingbe] to tell him we had to leave South Africa. He told us to get to the airport at 4pm. We did, and we ended up staying at the airport for more than 10, 12 hours.
“That’s not my fault, I couldn’t do anything. I can’t just put something on my body and fly from South Africa to London. I couldn’t just abandon my team. We went to the quarter-finals of African Nations Cup, which was historical for my country.
“I could not just jump on a plane and come back to Tottenham, because the president of the country wanted to see us and congratulate us. I am the captain so I have to be there. So that’s what I did. Then I got the flight the club sent to me.”
He said Togo’s lack of financial power made it harder for the country’s returning players. “When Ivory Coast went out of the tournament, the president of the federation sent them a plane to get back. With Togo, it’s not the same. You want to think about football but that’s not the case with Togo. You have to concentrate on what you are going to eat, where you are going to sleep. That’s what I have been doing for the last 10 years.”
Tottenham supporters have become increasingly exasperated this season with Adebayor, who has scored just three times for the club after managing 18 goals in 37 games last season. But he said he was determined to help the club finish above rivals their north London Arsenal, for whom he used to play.
“For me it’s a big opportunity to show people I was right to leave Arsenal, which means finishing on top of them. If that’s with Tottenham it’s even better.”
West Ham co-owners David Gold and David Sullivan have urged the club’s fans to avoid using any discriminatory chants when they host Tottenham to Upton Park on Monday night.
A small minority of West Ham’s travelling support were criticised in the aftermath of the Hammers’ 3-1 defeat at Spurs in November for anti-Semitic chanting. Co-owner Gold is of Jewish heritage and his joint statement with Sullivan stressed that any fans found guilty of partaking in such chanting would face strict punishments.
“We have made it very clear that we will not tolerate any form of discriminatory behaviour and one by one we will root out those fans that do not deserve to represent this great club of ours,” the statement said. “We must be clear that we will pursue the harshest sanctions against any individual who goes against what we stand for as a club.”
The Daily Telegraph