Goal.com Profile: Emmanuel Adebayor

Described as one of the most promising African footballers since the likes of Roger Milla, George Weah and most recently Nwankwo Kanu, Sheyi Emmanuel Adebayor has established himself this season as a prolific goal scorer in North London and has become involved in a potential transfer tug of war between Europe’s top clubs…

Name: Sheyi Emmanuel Adebayor
Date of Birth: 26th February 1984 (24)
Place of Birth: Lomé, Togo
Height: 1.91m (6 ft 3 in)
Weight: 11st lbs. (74kg)
Position: Striker
Current Club: Arsenal

In the beginning…

In 1999, Emmanuel Adebayor at the tender age of 15 joined French club FC Metz, after he was spotted in his native Togo. Prior to his move to France, Adebayor resided in Lomé playing matches for the Togolese U-15’s. “Sheyi” quickly established himself in France and was promoted from Metz U-17’s and tasted first team action. He netted 17 goals in his time playing for Metz and a year later in 2003 he was shipped out to Didier Deschamps’ Monaco, and helped them reach the Champions League final. At this young age, he was already attracting attention from Serie A’s Juventus and the Premier League’s Arsenal, yet he declined their invitations and opted to stay in France.

Adebayor’s family originally hails from Nigeria, both parents being from the Osun State in south-west Nigeria. However, he opted to play for Togo and at the age of 24, he has appeared 37 times for his nation and in the process banging in 16 goals. His presence in the national team was pivotal in Togo’s maiden qualification for the World Cup in 2006 in Germany. He scored 11 goals in qualification and Togo finished top in their qualification group. Yet as the tournament commenced Adebayor had a spat with Coach Otto Pfister and vowed to leave Togo in the middle of the campaign. This row involved payment disputes, and he was dropped for a period after the tournament. He resumed international duties in September 2007; two months after Togo were eliminated from Group G with no points and only scoring one goal.

London calling   After a successful spell at Monaco playing 78 times, and a runners up medal in the Champions League, a 21 year old Emmanuel Adebayor made a move to Arsenal. The transfer was completed on January 13, 2006, for a fee in the region of £3 million.  He was immediately named “Baby Kanu” by the Arsenal faithful due to his resemblance in size and technique that Kanu displayed at his time at the club, and also due to the fact that he opted for the same shirt number, 25. His debut came on the February 21 in a 2-0 win over Blackburn in which he scored after 21 minutes. In his first season for the Gunners he scored four goals, and unfortunately missed out on their run to the Champions League final due to being cup tied, as he was previously involved in the tournament with Monaco before Christmas.

The following season Adebayor took his chance to shine. He filled in for the injured Thierry Henry, and gained further recognition due to his winner against Manchester United. The same season he scored only 12 goals, with four assists, yet his heroics in the game against Man Utd won the respect of the Gunner’s devotees. It was this season when Adebayor took his chance to really flourish. With Henry’s departure on to Spanish pastures last August, Sheyi vowed to fill his goal scoring boots. He was lethal in front of goal all season hitting the target 30 times in 48 matches. He has quickly established himself as one of the finest centre forwards in the English Premier League, finishing joint second in the goal scoring charts with Fernando Torres. At the same time he was named in the English PFA Team of the year and nominated for African Player of the Year.

Reflecting on what has been said, Arsene Wenger appears once again to have found another gem. Adebayor’s lethal touch in front of goal has positioned him as one of the best strikers in Europe this season. His movement, aided by Aleksandr Hleb, Tomas Rosicky, and notably Cesc Fabregas’ passing and vision helped him achieve great heights and push Arsenal to, at one point, talk of a possible treble. However, things turned sour for Wenger’s side. After a famous victory in the San Siro against Milan, they were knocked out of the Champions League by Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool, and again Arsenal found themselves third best in the domestic campaign which saw Sir Alex Ferguson’s Man Utd once again retain their crown and Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea pip the Gunners to second. Indeed, whispers in recent weeks have mentioned the possibility of Emmanuel Adebayor moving on, just like Mathieu Flamini did to Milan.

Grass greener on the other side?

In recent weeks Emmanuel Adebayor’s position at Arsenal has been questioned. After the Gunners lost Flamini to Milan, and also rumours of a potential move away from the Emirates for Aliaksandr Hleb, Adebayor is the next player linked with a big money exit. There are no shortage of takers, yet primarily AC Milan seem to been the front runners and indeed will enjoy paring him with Flamini who they also poached from Wenger. Indeed, after another season for Arsenal with no silverware, players seem to be ready to leave, rather then to stick it out at Arsenal, to win titles elsewhere. Recently Sheyi has been coy regarding his future speaking with the Daily Star saying "I do not want to speak about this at the moment because of Arsenal. But it is possible there will be something to say in a few days' time." Apparently, there is a meeting scheduled for today or tomorrow which will determine his future in London or abroad. Barcelona have also expressed interest in Adebayor, and he is valued around £22 million.


Did you know?

Adebayor has only scored 26% of his goals at Arsenal with his head.   His idol is Nwankwo Kanu.   If he did move abroad for the rumoured transfer fee, he would be in the top three most expensive African footballers of all time, alongside Michael Essien and Didier Drogba of Chelsea.  

Stephen Donaldson