Adebayor keen to prove point
New recruit offers candid defence of City move and sets sights on top four place
Friday 24 July 2009
The words always tend to tumble out, pell-mell, when Emmanuel Adebayor is holding court and there is often a sparkle in the eyes but he has even more reason to talk for Togo last night after bowling into the team hotel where Manchester City have taken up residence here on the outskirts of town.
Yesterday had brought an encounter with Nelson Mandela, some event for an individual brought up in Togo's Kodjoviakope neighbourhood in the country's crime-ridden border area with Ghana. "Whenever he sees Africans making him proud he is always happy," Adebayor said of "Mr Mandela", as he described him. "He just said 'congratulations' and 'keep your focus'."
Wise words and prescient ones, bearing in mind the revealing account that the 25-year-old also provided last night of this momentous week in his young life. Considering his description of his departure from Arsenal, it would be tempting to doubt his professional focus – until he moves directly to the central question that many fans of a Manchester City disposition will have where the £25m signing is concerned. Did he follow the money to Eastlands?
"I know a lot of people will be saying 'he has gone for the money'," Adebayor reflects. "But I would like one guy – one Arsenal fan – who is honest enough with himself to say that if he worked for £10 one day and was offered £30 the next, he'd refuse it. We love what we do but we do it for something. [City] have proposed a fine contract but now what can I do as a footballer? That's in my head. It's good to be honest with ourselves as well."
This was honesty indeed – the most convincing account yet from those questioned on their motives in moving to Eastlands – and there was a candour, too, in the way that Adebayor refused to offer more than he felt he could deliver. "As a player it is just important to keep focused," he said. "I cannot ensure anyone I will score 20, 30, 40 goals but what I can ensure is I will give my best – that's why I signed for this club.
The player has a point to prove to north London, too, though he declined to echo Ashley Cole's mischievous aside in the US that City might just knock Arsenal out of the top four next season. "I'm here and I've got my own objectives," Adebayor said. "The objective of the club is to finish in the top four and I don't know who's going to be fifth or sixth but we don't care."
The depth of the frustration Adebayor evidently feels towards Arsenal's fans suggests the move north is for the best and when it comes to hurdles – this one is his highest, he says – he has always prevailed in the past. When he arrived as a 15-year-old at Metz, in 1999, the coach Francis De Taddeo discovered that, for all Adebayor's ability to weave past four or five players, he could not hit any part of a barn, let alone a door. But he put his mind to it and learnt to shoot. After he had arrived in north London, and developed under Dennis Bergkamp's tutelage, he discovered a poll on a fans' website suggesting he was the Arsenal striker least likely to score 20 goals a season. He promised fans he would score 20, repaired to Togo that summer for preparations to make certain of it, and brought his 6ft 4in frame back to Britain to score 30 in 2007-08. It was the season that marked him out as one of the great young striking talents and led Arsène Wenger, whose £7m outlay on the player had raised eyebrows, to declare that "of all the many young players I've brought here, his story is the most pleasing".
It seems to have helped that he is preparing for his next task in Africa, with Mandela on hand. "I needed a lot of ambition to leave this country and succeed," he said. "That's why I never think in life about going down – only about going up. I know it's not going to be easy but I will do my best. We have to put all our ambition together and achieve things."
Ade-memoire: Emmanuel's essentials
Born: 26 Feb, 1984, Lome, Togo
Height: 6ft 3in
Weight: 11st 6lb
1997-98 Sporting Club Lome
1999-2001 Metz B
2009- Manchester City
* 38 caps for Togo, 16 goals
* PFA Team of the year 2007-08
* BBC Goal of the season 2007-08
* African Player of the Year 2008
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