Emmanuel Adebayor

Emmanuel Adebayor emerging from the woods in Turkey

It was a cold and calm afternoon in North London; one that could literally make your butts freeze off. It was a day Arsenal welcomed Birmingham City for a Premier League clash. But that game was absolutely not about the cosy weather nor the visiting troops from St Andrews, rather, a certain Emmanuel Adebayor who will be making his debut for the Gunners. Arsene Wenger's side had just secured the services of the Togo international from Monaco for around £7m. He arrived alongside two youngsters, Theo Walcott and Abou Diaby. However, the club's faithful weren't able to have a glimpse of their latest acquisition until one month after his signing due to his involvement in the Africa Cup of Nations.

"He has qualities that we don't have on the side. He is tall, good in the air and makes good runs," Wenger said. "He is a bit of a Kanu type but he goes in more behind the defenders."

And this exceptional trait beamed immediately he kitted for the Gunners against Birmingham. So good that it took the 21-year-old barely 21 minutes to announce himself to about 35,000 fans seated at Highbury. His goal ensured the club ended a two-game losing streak and set the tone for their quest to finish in the top four.

Aptly called Baby Kanu due to his striking resemblance and comparable playing style with Gunners legend, Nwankwo Kanu, Adebayor became an instant hit in the Premier League despite being behind Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Robin van Persie in the pecking order. He finished the season with a creditable four goals from 13 appearances.

That season was a memorable one for Adebayor and the club. Arsenal managed to reach the Champions League final and finally bid farewell to their historic home ground for the Emirates. Influential skipper, Patrick Vieira, had walked away before the start of the season; while mercurial forward, Bergkamp, followed suit at the end of the campaign.

Consequently, this paved the way for Adebayor who struck 12 goals in 44 games the season after. But it turned out that it was Henry's exit to Barcelona which remarkably boosted the forward to notch 46 goals in two seasons.

And then came the watershed. Adebayor blatant fallout with the fans as well as his boss; coupled with the club's deepening financial crisis all led to his imminent exit. Arsenal expectedly cashed in on the forward who joined Manchester City for £25m. But he never really settled at the Etihad and somewhat became a nomad afterward playing for Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid and most recently Crystal Palace. He spent one season each on loan at Madrid and Spurs before joining the latter fully. He will go ahead to spend two years at Spurs before he had his contract terminated by mutual consent. This was followed by an unproductive six months at Palace where he managed just one goal in 15 appearances.

Though extremely talented, Adebayor's irritating band had been his attitude. The striker was only allowed to join Arsenal cos he had embarked on a strike action, and on numerous occasions had launched scathing attacks on his former employers. Off the pitch, he had an even worst reputation to the extent that he accused his mother of witchcraft. At that point, it was quite obvious no club wanted such player on their books.

Fast forward to 2017, now 33, it appears Adebayor is gradually picking up the pieces left in his blighted career in Turkey. After over six months without a club, the lanky forward joined İstanbul Başakşehir on the closing day of the winter transfer. And he seems to have put his torrid days behind him and is already looking like the 21-year-old who exploded on his first taste of English football in February 2006.

In just four league starts, Adebayor has notched five goals including a hat-trick in the 4-0 demolition of city rivals, Galatasaray, on Monday. Prior to his treble, the 33-year-old grabbed a goal in the 2-0 victory over Akhisar Belediyespor in the Turkish Cup; bringing his tally to six. His club is just five points adrift of league leaders, Besiktas, with the Togolese striker expected to help surge their title bid.

"I think it was my first hat trick since Real Madrid [an 8-1 win over Almeria in May 2011]," a humble Adebayor said after his Man of the Match performance on Monday.

"I owe it to the great players I played with like Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and [Cristiano] Ronaldo - this is for them and what I learned from them."

Adebayor's remark above is a paradigm shift from a boastful and arrogant fellow we've known over the years. Hopefully, his new-found attitude will last; so as his career in Turkey.

About the Author Toby

An unrepentant soccer freak other freaks call geek.

Leave a Comment: