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Darren Lewis: Why Adebayor may actually need help rather than criticism

10 Sep | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Darren Lewis: Why Adebayor may actually need help rather than criticism

The Daily Mirror sports writer believes a past of greed, gunfire and grief could explain the controversial striker's decision to decline a fresh start

His quotes are always good. The stories behind the headlines about him even better.

Emmanuel Adebayor’s Premier League career really has been the gift that keeps on giving.

Now he is the £100,000-a-week exile. The man who won’t move clubs unless he gets a sign from God.

Spurs, having failed to land Saido Berahino from West Brom this summer, could actually do with him in their squad right now.

As things stand, however, Adebayor will pocket a total of £5m not to play for the North Londoners because Spurs have already told him he will never feature for them again.

He has also been frozen out by his national team. This week Togo coach Tom Saintfiet played to the gallery by likening Adebayor to a bad date. The striker had failed to respond to a call-up to an African Nations Cup qualifier last week. Now he will not be selected by Saintfiet again.

The soap opera surrounding Adebayor is replete with tales of complacency, excess (he has been prone to turning up for training in a chauffeur-driven Phantom Coupe), witchdoctors and violence, as revealed in those startling Facebook confessionals earlier this year.

He is certainly no angel. He has never been one for diplomacy. His very public bust-ups with Nicklas Bendtner, Robin van Persie and Andre Villas Boas were just a snapshot of the run-ins he has had over the years at his various clubs.

What his story has lacked, however, is compassion. There has never really been any real consideration for the possibility that in fact Adebayor is a troubled individual.

The talk now is that he has lost his confidence. That he has lost his appetite and enthusiasm for the game after the domestic and footballing traumas he has suffered over several years.

For someone who has scored 176 goals in 483 games for clubs including Monaco, Arsenal, City, Real Madrid and Tottenham that is quite something.

It probably fails to move you. Fair enough. Possibly because of the way that his productivity has plummeted at some clubs after his initial season of promise.

Probably because of the fact that he has availed himself of so many clubs’ frankly crazy willingness to put him onto the kind of exorbitant wages that no sane person would walk away from.

This is a man, however, that you could argue is lucky to be alive at all – let alone rubbing people up the wrong way at White Hart Lane. 

Who can tell just how badly he was affected emotionally by that gunfire attack on the Togo team bus that killed three people five years ago while on Africa Cup of Nations duty?

Four months later he retired from international football admitting: “I have weighed up my feelings in the weeks and months since the attack and I am still haunted by the events which I witnessed on that horrible afternoon on the Togo team bus. 

“We were just footballers going to play a football match and represent our country, yet we were attacked by people who wanted to kill us all. It is a moment I will never forget and one I never want to experience again.”adebayor-togoHe was urged to come back by the national team’s officials who gave him assurances about his safety. But Adebayor’s whole life appears to be one in which he is pressured into doing a lot of things by the people around him.

He talked in those lengthy, disturbing Facebook posts about being badgered for money by his family. Of having a knife held to his throat by his brothers who allegedly demanded money (a claim they deny). Of having to clean up the controversies surrounding family members that embarrassed him in high-profile situations. 

And, of course, of contemplating suicide.

Far from being money hungry and lazy, Adebayor sounded like a footballer on the edge.

He may post pictures of his bling, his cars and his life of opulence on the internet. In 2011 he talked about expanding his already-bulging property portfolio (“I’ve bought houses in places that I don’t even know… I love building houses,”) even further around the world.

But does that mean he does not – or cannot – suffer from the same kind of pressures that eat away at players with a lesser profile?

And this is where the concerns lie about his confidence. Rather than jump at the chance of a move to Aston Villa, where he would have continued raking it in (the club had agreed to take over his huge wages for the final year of his contract), Adebayor simply stalled.

Villa had him signed. To the extent that they had even conducted in-house interviews with him wearing the strip. Club sources were left baffled as to why they simply never heard from him again. They assumed at the time it was because he wanted to stay in London.

He could have gone to West Ham, who were equally keen to take him on loan for his final year. Even more attractive for the Hammers, Spurs were so desperate to get him out that they offered to pay half his wages. Something they’d refused to do back in January. He’d have got his money. In full.

Still he prevaricated. Argued the toss. The perception so far has been that he played hardball in order to get his full £5million pay-off from Tottenham to leave on a free transfer and seal a move to Upton Park.

The concern now is that he was simply stalling because he “bottled it”. That he actually didn’t want the responsibility of playing football again because he has lost confidence in his abilities.

Whether through stress, depression or grief (he described 2013 as “the worst year of my life” after his brother Peter died), cash and controversy appear to have masked an underlying trouble with Adebayor.

Spurs would love it if he hot-footed it to Qatar where the transfer window remains open until the end of the month. He won’t go.

They’d fly him out themselves to the MLS. But he won’t go.

The claim is that he wanted a sign from God before he would commit himself to Villa and didn’t get one. It is a story verified by sources inside and outside his club.

Last season Adebayor told a radio station in Ghana that his mum had put a curse on him.  It is one to make the eyes roll for some and for others to once again dismiss him as bonkers.

But while the 31-year-old striker has been so far synonymous with money, it does not appear now to be the reason for his continued stay at Tottenham. 

If anything – certainly if the suggestions are to be believed – it is merely an excuse.

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