Friday 9 December 2016

Adebayor spurred on by near escape in Togo ambush

Jamie Jackson

Published 18/09/2011 | 05:00

Emmanuel Adebayor speaks calmly of the day that transformed him: "We woke up on January 8 going to the African Cup of Nations, we started singing in the bus and we ended up carrying dead bodies back home. On January 8, 2010 it could have been over, Adebayor's gone, finished. After a while you think: 'I am another person. I just have to live.'"

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In Cabinda, on the Angolan coast, a group called Flec, demanding independence for the exclave of Cabinda, attacked the Togo team coach just after it crossed the Republic of Congo border on the way to their opening game of the tournament. During a terrifying 30 minutes the driver, Mario Adjoua, was shot dead, preventing any escape, along with the assistant manager, Abalo Amelete, and Togo's press officer, Stanislas Ocloo. Several others were injured, including Serge Akakpo, a defender, and the goalkeeper, Kodjovi Obilale, as the team hid under seats while their security guards fired back.

Adebayor makes a tiny gap between a thumb and forefinger and says: "It could have been me. I have realised when it is your time, it's your time.

"There is no way back -- when you have to be gone you have to be gone because people got shot two seats in front of me. I'm not angry, how can I be? It's part of life and I could be somewhere in a coffin now, but I'm still alive talking to you today. I just told myself from that day 'Every single moment should be enjoyable, I will be having fun. I was one minute from passing away.'"

Adebayor is supposedly every opposition fan's favourite villain. The 27-year-old's infamy dates from his celebration after scoring for Manchester City against Arsenal in September 2009 when he ran the length of the Eastlands pitch to make a point before his former fans.

Now he admits remorse regarding the incident. "I regret the celebration, it was a big mistake. If I go to Arsenal and score at the Emirates I will [celebrate] but for sure I'm not going to like that," he says.

Adebayor's differences with Roberto Mancini caused him to first go on loan to Real Madrid last season, and now to Tottenham, for whom he will line up against Liverpool this afternoon.

So, given his new perspective, if Harry Redknapp was to leave him out this season will he accept this? "Oh yeah, that is over," he says, with a grin. "When I was in Madrid there was some game I was not playing, and whenever I was coming on I was laughing. Whenever you have a chance to play 10 minutes, go out there and enjoy. Sometimes you have to realise that some players are in better form that you. If Harry told me: 'Adebayor, you are not playing,' I would be more than happy to sit on the bench because I have still got my life, which is a more important thing. I'm still healthy, I wake up and my two eyes are working, my hands are moving."

A record of 10 goals in 14 games for Arsenal against his latest club has hardly endeared him to the Spurs fans. He also scored against them for Real Madrid in last season's Champions League quarter-final victory, during which the Spurs fans sang a song that contained the unsavoury line: "Your dad washes elephants."

Adebayor, though, shrugs this off when asked how he may be received in his first appearance in a Spurs shirt at White Hart Lane: "Sometimes it is difficult for a player to take, we are all human. Sometimes you feel you have been a little bit abused."

At City Adebayor's dispute with Mancini led to him being ordered to train with the junior players. Again, Adebayor can joke. "It was fun with the kids," he says.

Adebayor has worked under Arsene Wenger, Mancini and Jose Mourinho, and he is in no doubt who his new boss resembles. "He is closer to Mourinho because of the way he treats players and he gives you your full confidence," he says.

Spurs host Arsenal in a fortnight. Do not rule out the man who has 61 goals in 113 Premier League starts from adding to his count then. He says: "Alex Song sent me a message [when I joined Spurs] asking me: 'Are you doing it on purpose?' I told him: 'No. I'm a professional.'"

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