Emmanuel Adebayor, dressed in double denim, falls to his knees, leans back and spreads his arms wide.
He is sitting in an empty room in the Istanbul Basaksehir stadium, but his mind is elsewhere. He is at the Etihad Stadium, with eye-catching eyes and striding the length of the field towards the supporters of the Arsenal.
He's excited. He sees the coins, the bottles and the vitriol pour down. And he doesn't move an inch.
Emmanuel Adebayor recreates his notorious goal party for Manchester City
Adebayor celebrated this for the first time in 2009 after scoring City against former club Arsenal
& # 39; If a sniper shot me, he would not have knocked me down, & # 39; Adebayor insists. & # 39; I was in my spiritual zone. Kolo Toure said to me: "I was looking at the pictures and you didn't shrink back." I no longer felt human. The abuse was too much. I was ready to die. I just looked at them and thought, "There are things you don't do." & # 39;
Adebayor is a player with remarkable gifts. He made more than 250 appearances in English football and scored 122 goals, but so often it rules his personality. His iconic celebration, shortly after he left Arsenal for Manchester City in 2009, remains the lasting image of his career.
Almost a decade has passed, but Adebayor's outrage continues. In person, he is a loose band, an intoxicating mix of fire and ice. He remains addicted to the Premier League, removes the permutations from each fixture for the battle for the top four and his girlfriend and daughter live in his flat in Hampstead.
His stories – the day he had a fight with Nicklas Bendtner – make you laugh, while others – his vivid flashbacks of the murderous attack on the Togo bus – only cause sadness.
He sits down and has a nostalgic mood.
& # 39; I was 21 when Arsene Wenger first called. A Monaco player but on vacation in Togo, playing football.
& # 39; A friend picked up my Nokia. He said that Wenger is at stake. I said, "Yes, don't be so weird, put the receiver down." It went again. I picked it up and it really was him! & # 39;
& # 39; I hear & # 39; Hey! & # 39 ;, & # 39; He says, while perfecting his Wenger impression. & # 39; I thought, "Are you interested? I'm more interested!" I'll be there for you tomorrow. He said, "Stay calm." Two days later it was ready. He said, "All conditions?" All I wanted was Nwankwo Kanu & # 39; s shirt number 25 and his locker. He was my idol. Wenger said: "Your wish has been granted!" Astonishing. & # 39;
But after three years, relationships deteriorated. While Wenger tried to balance the books, Adebayor left. He was not the only one and is easily irritated.
& # 39; Kolo, Fabregas, Clichy, Van Persie, & # 39; he says as he picks up the pace. & # 39; They have all left. I don't think Arsenal has shown love to keep players. You have a lot of money at Arsenal. But if you can double your salary, we are football players and after 10 years it is over.
Adebayor was 21 when he first spoke to Arsene Wenger – he was on vacation in Togo
Adebayor does not believe that Arsenal has done enough to keep players like Cesc Fabregas
& # 39; If you are Cesc, to Barcelona, he will earn more money, more sponsorship and he will go home. What did Arsenal do to keep him at the club? Nothing. Now the fans say he is not loyal. When you leave Arsenal, you become a traitor, regardless of what you have done. Van Persie was the same. & # 39;
How did Wenger react to the celebration? & # 39; Wenger had nothing to say to me. People think that football is family. It is business.
& # 39; I didn't wake up one morning in Manchester City. I had signed a five-year contract with Arsenal. I came back for the preseason and Wenger said, "You have to leave". I said, "Why would I leave?" I asked another year and if it doesn't work, I walk away. He is like "No." He said that if I stayed he would not put me on the team. If you hear that, you must go. & # 39;
In the meantime he is moving in his chair. It is when the conversation turns in the direction of English football and racism that the most compelling points of Adebayor emerge.
& # 39; This is the thing & # 39 ;, he says. & # 39; And that's why I haven't said anything about racism in recent weeks. When I was fourth, the FA imposed a fine on me, they punished me. Nothing happened to the Arsenal fans. So it [racism] started with me and long for me.
Adebayor said he was told to leave Arenal van Wenger on the training field
& # 39; I remember going to the stadium and fans of Arsenal were there. The only thing I heard was the song "Your mother is a whore and your father washes elephants." My father worked in a currency exchange office and my mother is a businesswoman. But this went on and on. So how can I answer? I didn't have a vote to go against thousands of supporters.
& # 39; And is now trying to stop the same FA racism? I apologize. It doesn't work that way. Today it's too late. We are tired. Enough is enough. I see Mario Balotelli and Didier Drogba on Instagram. How often do we have to post something? We have to respond. We have to leave the field. & # 39;
Adebayor is a complex and deeply emotional man. His relationships with his family have been broken and he has been hurt by football. After a career in Monaco, London, Manchester, Madrid and Istanbul, he is now 35.
& # 39; Growing old and getting tired & # 39 ;, he says. & # 39; I love England. But I have a name. There was a time when everything that hit Adebayor was negative. They said Adebayor loved money. Not only Adebayor relocated clubs. To really understand me, we must return to Togo. & # 39;
Nostalgia takes him back to his childhood in the Kodjoviakope compound in his home country. The word poverty hardly does justice to his upbringing.
& # 39; People say I dreamed & # 39 ;, he says. & # 39; But the life I have now was more than dreams. Never mind. We had no facilities. The places were sand. Hit the ball hard and the goal posts fall down.
Adebayor grew up in poverty before his life changed forever when he became a professional
Adebayor says that the pressure imposed on him as a teenager almost led him to take his own life
& # 39; We had a leaking roof. I woke up every night to dry it out with a bucket. We had no electricity. We used candles and lanterns. We didn't have a toilet. To calm ourselves down, we walked a mile to the beach. It would be like dropping your shorts on Miami beach. The wind was incredible, so you can imagine … but that was my life.
& # 39; We went into different neighborhoods to find a television to watch football, but I didn't believe the players on the screen were real. I thought it was a game where your photos dropped in the black box. Only when I played abroad and people said they saw me on TV did I begin to believe that George Weah was real. Maybe Zidane is real. That's how I saw football through the eyes of a child. & # 39;
He first arrived in Europe as a teenager in Metz. Isolated in a foreign country, vulnerabilities have emerged. Adebayor pauses for the first time. He takes a deep breath and then, shockingly, describes how close he came to take his own life.
& # 39; I was 16, & # 39; he says. & # 39; I just wanted to help my family, but they put a lot of pressure on me. I couldn't handle it. If a family is poor, everyone is poor and there is enormous solidarity. People take a bullet for you. But if someone makes it, it's like you owe everyone.
& # 39; In Metz, I was maybe £ 3,000 a month. My family asked for a home worth £ 500,000. The club was tired of my behavior. I remember sitting on my bed one night thinking, "What am I doing here? Nobody is happy with me, so what's the point of living? & # 39;
& # 39; There was a pharmacy under my apartment. I bought the package after the package with tablets. They didn't want to sell it to me, but I said it was for a good cause in Togo. I made the preparations, I drank all the water. I was ready to go. Then I called my best friend at midnight.
& # 39; He told me not to hurry, that I have things to live for. "You have the potential to change Africa." I thought, "You are a dream seller and I don't buy dreams now." But he took me out of the moment. I thought God had to keep something. & # 39;
Adebayor was the Togo captain on January 8, 2010 when their team bus was lured into ambush
The driver, assistant manager and a media officer were killed, with seven players injured
Such feelings were reinforced on January 8, 2010. Adebayor was the Togo captain on the day the national team bus was trapped by terrorists. The driver, the assistant manager and a media officer were killed. Several players were injured.
While his friends were bleeding and crying for help, Adebayor and his teammates had to remain immobile: & 42 minutes we only heard gunshots. Left, right, front and back. I just heard friends scream, but we couldn't do anything or move.
& # 39; As a captain, I told everyone to call their family. I called my girlfriend and I told her, "Listen, I'm about to go." She said, "Where to?" She was pregnant. I said, "If the child is born, if it's a boy, call him Emmanuel Jr. If it's a girl, call her Princess Emannuela. She said," What are you talking about? "And then I just had to say : "I'll call you later when I'm still alive." & # 39;
Because it has encountered such darkness, it is not surprising that Adebayor speaks with disgust about the more trivial topics of football. His reflections are nevertheless fascinating.
His favorite teammate? He grins. & # 39; Craig Bellamy. He comes straight to you. "You know what Emmanuel, today you were shit." Others in soccer whisper in the back. & # 39;
At Arsenal there were differences of opinion with Van Persie and Nicklas Bendtner. & # 39; Why should I come to an interview, lie to people and say that Van Persie is my best friend? He has his character and I have mine. There was tension.
Adebayor describes himself as & # 39; a free man & # 39; but admits that he did not agree with everyone he met
& # 39; I am a free man, I come to every club, walk into the dressing room and sing. I danced with Thierry Henry and had enormous respect for Dennis Bergkamp. But at Arsenal, when you walk into the dressing room, there is a shoe rack.
& # 39; You take off your sneakers and wear the club sandals in the dressing room. Bendtner came in twice with his own shoes. I said, "Bendtner, there is a law here and no one is above it." He was younger than me and hardly played.
& # 39; We are taller than you, but no one else comes in with Prada, Gucci … He said, "I don't care." I said, "Don't do it again." The next day he did the same and we jumped into a fight. & # 39;
Adebayor was part of an Arsenal group that seemed to fall apart in slow motion, with a piece of the jigsaw puzzle presented to their rivals every summer.
& # 39; It was a time for you to go on vacation and see the Daily Mail website to see who's close to leaving for Barcelona or Milan. Dropping Arsenal one by one is what they are today. I would not be surprised if Lacazette or Aubameyang leave in the summer. Nothing surprises me with that club anymore. & # 39;
During his time at Arsenal, Adebayor clashed with his colleague Nicklas Bendtner
Adebayor believes that Wenger should have changed his tactics for games to Stoke
His analysis of the shortcomings of Arsenal under Wenger are incisive. & # 39; Wenger is a great manager & # 39 ;, says Adebayor. & # 39; But whatever the situation, we had to play our football. I remember those days that went to Stoke. & # 39;
He blows out his cheeks. & # 39; You know it's a tough afternoon with the pitch from Rory Delap. I'm a big guy, but what about the rest of the team? We came out of the dressing room in the hallway and you hear the tinkling, the tinkling … of Stoke's stallions … and just think "Oh my God". Shawcross, Huth, Crouch … Then you see our team of 60kg players.
Hadden We had quality, but for some games, I am sorry, it was not enough. United and Chelsea were technical but so strong. Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. Rio has insulted everyone on the field. He's a good psycho!
& # 39; But Vidic was the toughest man, the dirtiest, as if he bumped into a rock. He could block a striker with one finger. He walks up to you, he says sorry, he kicks you, he says sorry. He yells at you and lets out a little bit of spit. This man was ready to kill. & # 39;
Did Arsenal hurt from defeats like United did? & # 39; We have swallowed defeats. Games where I scored and we lost 2-1, I thought my job was over. Rio would come to me: "if you want to be happy, score three." I saw him arguing with Rooney and Giggs.
& # 39; These are the things we didn't have. We were nice. We had a gentlemen team. We play, we go around but when it comes to being dirty, we can't. & # 39;
Adebayor said that Rio Ferdinand & # 39; right psycho & # 39; was on the pitch for Manchester United
Adebayor said that Ferdinand's teammate Nemanja Vidic & # 39; was the dirtiest, as if he bumped into a rock & # 39;
During a loan spell in Real Madrid, Adebayor saw the antithesis of Wenger in Jose Mourinho. "
One is calm and the other not. I remember that we lost 2-1 and that we played badly. Thierry Henry went mentally. Wenger came in and said: "Calm down, we're perfect, 65 percent of the ball, we've been crossed 25 times." Thierry tells me "Who cares? We're losing". That is the difference between Wenger and Mourinho.
& # 39; At Real we won 3-0 at half time. He entered the dressing room and became spiritual. He kicked the fridge, threw water and killed everyone.
& # 39; He once killed Ronaldo after scoring a hat trick. He said: "Everyone says you are the best in the world and you play poorly. Show me that you are the best." Cristiano took it.
& # 39; Ronaldo could score a hat trick, but talk about the one he missed. He trained with us in Madrid as if he were training with his children. Passes with his back, control with his neck. He held the ball once in five seconds with one touch! How is that possible? In the gym, wow. Sergio Ramos and I were the strongest. But then Ronaldo came. "Do you think that's hard?" He would say. We would do five repetitions and he would do thirty. & # 39;
Adebayor played alongside Cristiano Ronaldo when he was in Real Madrid
Adebayor also regards Jose Mourinho as the antithesis of Wenger as manager
Now a Basaksehir player from Istanbul, Adebayor, is the glory of his eyes with his side
He pauses and there is introspection. & # 39; If I was open to criticism such as Cristiano, when I was younger, I would have been a different player and go one step further. & # 39;
The smile returns. He stumbles to his feet. & # 39; I like it here in Istanbul. We have me, Robinho, Arda Turan, Gael Clichy. I was with him in Manchester City, then Arsenal, now here. I would not be surprised if he bought land in Togo without telling me!
& # 39; My last challenge is to win a league title for the first time. We are top and I really want it. & # 39;