Monday 20 November 2017

'He died in my hands ... my head is not on football now'

Ian Herbert

Emmanuel Adebayor last night revealed the deep emotional affect on him of last week's deadly attack on the Togo team bus at the African Cup of Nations in Angola, revealing that he is losing weight and psychologically unprepared for a return to Manchester City.

Togo's media officer, Stan Ocloo, died in Adebayor's arms last Friday in the Angolan region of Cabinda. He was one of three people killed in the gun attack, which led to the team's withdrawal from the tournament -- and Adebayor, recovering from the ordeal in Togo, is now not expected back in Manchester for at least a week.

"If it meant going back tomorrow, I wouldn't be capable of giving everything that I've got," Adebayor said from his home in the Togolese capital, Lome.

"I will not be able to play that game (against Everton). Even standing on that pitch would be the worst thing that I could do because I am not 100pc. I have to start training first, recover first from what happened. My head is not on football now. We are talking about lives -- life is more important than football."

The 25-year-old is understood to have contacted City to explain his appearance for an interview on Tuesday in an Arsenal shirt, the images of which City said last night have been a cause of concern to him. He left Cabinda minus his kit, which was left on the ambushed coach, and having arrived in his homeland without his luggage, borrowed the jersey from his brother to conduct his initial interview.

"At the moment I'm just sweating everyday and every day that God made," Adebayor added. "I can't even eat. I'm losing weight, which is very difficult for everyone. I will take time and I will come back on the pitch at the right time.

"I think my boss (Roberto Mancini) and my team understand that is the most important thing. And they know I need time to recover from this, and at the moment I am just staying home with all my (Togo) team-mates. We are all together -- (as) one."

Adebayor contacted City on Tuesday morning to express thanks for the minute's silence for the three lost lives which was observed before Monday night's 4-1 win over Blackburn Rovers.

"I appreciate what we (at City) are doing at the moment," he said. "But my head is not what we are scoring at the moment, my head is on the families that lost their people. You know, it's difficult because our press officer was my personal press officer and he died in my hands. I think that's now the war I have in my life, because having somebody die in your hands ... I had the press officer's (hand) in my hand 'til his last breath ... so you can imagine it's very difficult."

Adebayor, an emotional character at the best of the times, will be left by City to attend the funerals of his colleagues -- the coach driver died as well as the assistant coach Amalete Abalo. His own struggle to contend with the events of last Friday has been made no easier, however, by the organisational fiasco that followed the shooting -- with Togo first withdrawing from the tournament and then being refused a request to rejoin after three days of national mourning.

Of the Arsenal shirt he wore, Adebayor said: "When we jumped out from the bus we left all our luggage in the bus and we ran away. So when I came back (here) I didn't have anything to wear and the first person I asked was for my brother to give me a shirt. At the moment, we are all confused in our heads. I just want to say again sorry for the shirt and I hope people will understand." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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