Emmanuel Adebayor defends Tottenham Hotspur absence

 

Emmanuel Adebayor insists poor organisation by the Togo Football Federation, and not his own laziness, was the reason behind his late return to Tottenham following the African Nations Cup.

What happened to Adebayor in the week following Togo's exit from the continental competition was a source of mystery and frustration for Tottenham fans.

Togo were eliminated on February 3, but despite the fact that he was Tottenham's only fit striker, Adebayor did not land back in England until five days later - less than 24 hours before the club's crucial Barclays Premier League game against Newcastle.

Spurs fans tore into Adebayor for a perceived lack of commitment, but the striker insists he was not to blame.

Adebayor last night lifted the lid on the events of a bizarre week which saw him stranded in Africa thanks to what he claims was a lack of organisation on the part of the federation - something that has riled the former Arsenal striker in the past.

Adebayor claims the TFF left him and his team-mates stranded in a hotel in South Africa for four days while they tried to fly to Togo to meet the country's president, who wanted to see them after their historic progression to the quarter-finals. Adebayor says they arrived in Togo on Friday morning, which meant he could only return to London later that day when Spurs chartered a private jet to get him back to England.

"I read about (criticism), but, I was just trying to help my team-mates in the national team," Adebayor said following last night's 1-1 draw in Lyon.

"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."

Adebayor has often lashed out at the TFF over what he sees as an unprofessional approach to organising a national football team.

He was so worried that the federation would not organise sufficient security around the team in South Africa that he feared there could be a repeat of the deadly gun attack on the team in Angola three years ago.

Adebayor had to have face-to-face talks with President Gnassingbe before agreeing to play in the tournament.

"When Ivory Coast went out of the tournament, the president of the federation sent them a plane to get back," Adebayor continued.

"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."

Things have not gone smoothly for Adebayor at club level this year either. Tottenham made Adebayor one of their top targets last summer after he scored 18 goals in 37 games, but since he moved to Spurs permanently, it has been a different story for the hitman.

The former Manchester City man has scored just three times this season. He has not shown the same energy and passion he displayed last term, leading to suggestions that he is not as committed to the club as he was last season.

Adebayor pays little attention to those theories, however.

"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," he said.

"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."

Tottenham's 1-1 draw in Lyon on Thursday night means Adebayor and his team-mates have a good chance of lifting the Europa League this season - providing they overcome Inter Milan in the last 16.

The main priority for Spurs is beating Arsenal to fourth place in the Barclays Premier League - something that Adebayor would take great pride in achieving.

He said: "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."

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