Archive for December 29th, 2006

Adebayor: “I’m scared of nobody”

497 comments December 29th, 2006

So here we are. After a significant amount of pestering, I’ve brought you the highlights of the Emmanuel Adebayor interview. Enjoy.

On joining Arsenal:

The boss, Arsene Wenger, called me, and when he called me I was pleased. I signed for Arsenal – there was a good atmosphere, I had signed for one of the big teams of the world, and I was going to play in the team that my hero had played for for a long time: Nwankwo Kanu. I was a relieved man – before, in Monaco, I was in prison – after this contract I felt like I was at home. Everyone who saw me said, “We are happy to get you as a player”, “We are happy to get you to replace Kanu”.

On his first goal:

In February I came back to Arsenal from the African Cup of Nations, where I had a difficult time. I scored in my first game, 21st minute against Birmingham away, which was very important. After scoring, Thierry Henry told me, “Welcome to London”, and I was very pleased about that. For me, it was a moment that I will never forget in my life. I was like a released man. I’d just come back from the African Cup, where all my country said that all of our problems where because of me, and when I came back to London I just wanted to show that I wasn’t wrong. All I had said, all I had done, was for the country, and when I scored they were proud of me.

On the World Cup, and Togo’s problems there:

I think it was difficult to understand. We were the smallest country in the World Cup, and we had a lot of problems. When we arrived, we just felt like a lot of things had to change. The world needed to know that we had a lot of problems… our president, our team management. And I am proud to say a lot of that has changed. This is because of me, because of my friends, because of the team. I know the image that we gave was not too good, but that’s part of life: sometimes you have to do some bad things to become good. And I think we did that. Today we are together, we are like a family, and all the Togolese people know that we are not the ones who brought in the problems – the problems came before us. We know that we have a small team, but we were just pleased to qualify and to play in the World Cup once in our lives. As a player, you have to dream about that, and I have the experience: I have played one World Cup in my life, with a small country, with Togo, and I can just say I am very pleased and happy about that.

On the perception that he is a trouble-maker:

That’s what a lot of people think about me, they think I don’t have a good character. They think I talk a lot. But anyway, as a player, you have to accept critics, and I accept that.

On his problems at Monaco:

The problem that I had in Monaco was that when Didier Deschamps, the person who brought me to Monaco, the manger who really liked me, who had confidence in me… when he left, the new coach, Francesco Guidolin… OK,you know: a new manager came to the team. And I was in the last qualification game in Congo. When I came back from Congo, we were qualified, I was proud (of course), I was happy like a baby. When I arrived at the dressing room, he asked for me. I went to see him, and the first thing that this “boss” or “coach” said to me was, “I don’t know you. I’ve never seen you play football”. I had played for Monaco for two years, they bought me from Metz, where I scored a lot of goals, and a new manager just arrived and told me that he’d never seen me play football. This is when I knew he would never pick me to play. I would never be in his plans, and so the important thing for me was to leave. When I went to the President he said “No, we have confidence in you”, so I said, “OK. But you are going to see”. And in the first three games, I was still on the bench. And I told him, “I know I’m still young, but I want to play football. My life is on the pitch – I don’t want to sit on the bench”. And in France, a lot of people were talking about that: “Adebayor doesn’t have a good character”, “Adebayor has done this”, “Adebayor has done that”, but today, everything that’s been written about me is behind me. Today I’m just enjoying playing football for Arsenal. I’m good over here: all the people like me over here, for me there is nothing more important than that. I’m like a newborn child. My life is football, all I know how to do in my life is football… at school I was not good – I could never do anything but football!

On his relationship with Arsene Wenger:

During the summer, the boss called me and said “Emmanuel Adebayor, I have a lot of confidence in you. Be ready. When we come back, you will play a lot, and show everyone that you are not wrong – you are always right.”

On criticism of Thierry Henry:

Off the pitch, people will always talk, whether you score ten goals, or fifteen goals. You can see today: Thierry Henry, the man who qualified France, who took them to all these World Cups, took them to the Final – the french people don’t like him. That’s part of life. He’s scored a lot of goals for Arsenal, and still today I can hear some critics saying Thierry has done this and that, but I have confidence in Thierry, and I know he will be back. He told me yesterday he will answer those people on the pitch.

On how he answers his own critics:

As a player, it’s better to speak on the pitch than off it. For all the people who say I have a bad character, for all those you say I have a good character, the answer is on the pitch.

On his status within the squad:

It’s important to have the confidence of your team-mates, and all my team-mates… Kolo, Cesc Fabregas, Alex Hleb told me “We have confidence in you”, “You can do the job”, “We know that you can do everything”, and that’s very important to me. There’s a lot of responsibility as a lone forward, and if I see something not going well in the team, I have to talk, because I’m scared of nobody. I’m never scared in my life, and if I see something wrong, I have to say it. People think that’s bad about me… they can think what they want to think, but the important thing for me is my team, my club: Arsenal. And if I think I can help the team, why not? I do it with pleasure.

On the African group at Arsenal, and the role of Kolo Toure:

Yeah, we all listen to the same music, from the Ivory Coast. We are always together, we go to restaurants, we like joking aswell… like Emmanuel Eboue, he’s the comic man of the team. We are all happy to have someone like Eboue, and at the same time like Kolo, who is the big brother – he likes talking aswell, he’s the leader: “Don’t do this”, “Don’t do that”! He’s a man, he wants to be our father. That’s very good. That’s part of his life – he wants to take a lot of responsibility. We listen to him because he’s been here for about four or five years now, and he knows what Arsenal is. He tells us what to do or not do, on and off the pitch.

And finally, on the madness of Emmanuel Eboue:

I don’t know how I can explain this. Emmanuel… I’ve never… I’ve played a lot with mad people in my life: I’ve played in Metz, in Monaco, now at Arsenal. But mad like Eboue? I’ve never seen that in my life. This is the first time I’ve seen somebody mad as mad, you know? I can’t explain it, but he’s really mad. If you see him outside, you could just think that he’s a serious guy, he’s cool, he never talks, but that’s what he hides behind. He is very, very mad.

So there you have it. A fascinating defence from a player who has overcome all his critics with some sterling and stirring performances on the pitch. He comes across as an extremely confident young man, with the spirit of a leader. And just when you thought he couldn’t recieve higher accolades, he’s gone and won the Togolese Overseas Player of the Year. Astonishing.

It is partly because of his form that Arsene has decided that Niklas Bendtner will spend the remainder of the season at Birmingham, before joining up with the first team. No news yet for Anthony Stokes, with Celtic and Sunderland sniffing around the young Irishman.

More tomorrow.

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