Career highs and lows of Nigeria-born Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor

Career highs and lows of Nigeria-born Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor

Nigeria-born Togo superstar Emmanuel Adebayor has brought down the curtain on an extraordinary career that while didn't see him pick up many major honours will have left with unforgettable moments - good and bad.

Adebayor's playing days saw him feature on both sides of the north London divide with Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur but he also starred in between for Manchester City and even at Real Madrid.

Later career moves also saw him involved in a short spell at Crystal Palace before he confirmed his retirement on Tuesday morning following a video posted on social media.

While the 39-year-old rarely settled at one club, he was talented enough to prove himself at the business end of the Premier League and will be remembered as a strong personality off the pitch as well as on it.

A looks back on the striker's most memorable moments down the years. 

Bang on target for Arsenal

Given his many off-field dramas it can be easy to forget that when on form, Emmanuel Adebayor was a lethal striker capable of mixing it with the best. Former Gunners boss Arsene Wenger knew how to pick out a talented player.

He arrived for a modest £3million in 2006 but went on to score 62 goals in 142 games for the Gunners before his bitter fallout at the club led to a departure in the summer of 2009 . 

His best among them? A sensational volley at Tottenham in 2007 where he flicked the ball up from 20 yards and thundered high past a despairing Paul Robinson won the Match of the Day goal of the season award and showed off his undoubted class. 

Bad blood with Bendtner

White Hart Lane wasn't always a happy hunting ground for Adebayor while wearing the red of Arsenal.

During a 5-1 humiliation in a League Cup semi-final defeat he infamously clashed with team-mate Nicklas Bendtner to the point the duo had to be pulled apart on the pitch by team-mates as Spurs run riot on their way to a famous 2008 victory. 

Bendtner later explained that the pair never got on with each other despite sitting next to each other in the dressing room and that their meltdown at the Lane led to a club fine after a meeting with team boss Wenger the next day. 

Gunning for Arsenal fans with City celebration

Try and conjure up a list of controversial Premier League celebrations and the chances are you will be hard pressed to find a greater one than this.

Adebayor had only just moved to Manchester City in 2009 for a then pricey £25m. The striker was largely hounded out of the Emirates Stadium after supporters grew frustrated with his inconsistent performances and left the club just two months after saying he was '100 per cent' staying put on the red side of north London.

Typically, just two months after his arrival City hosted Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium and after increasing the hosts' lead to 3-1 with an excellent glancing header, sprinted the full length of the pitch before sliding on his knees with his arms out in front of infuriated Arsenal fans. 

Perhaps harshly his actions saw him given a suspended two-match ban and a fine of £25,000 while he was also booked.

Tragic Togo bus attack 

Adebayor's career saw him represent Togo 85 times and scoring 32 goals across 19 years up until 2019 - and included him playing at the 2006 World Cup to live the lifelong dream of many young footballers.

Unfortunately though, it was while representing his national side where the striker was caught up in tragedy.

Ahead of representing Togo at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola, the team's bus was subject of a terrorist attack in the province of Cabinda two days before the tournament started as gunmen opened up with machine guns as it was travelling on the road.

Three people were killed, including the bus driver, a broadcast journalist and an assistant coach, and nine others were injured as players including Adebayor on board took cover below their seats for their lives during 30 minutes of shooting where security teams helped fire back at the terrorists.

Adebayor, told the BBC hours after the shootings that it was 'one of the worst experiences I will ever have in my life.'

He added: 'Those are the times that you realise what is happening really, when I took one of the players into the hospital.

'When I came out, I saw all the players, and everyone was crying, everyone was talking about their family, calling people, calling their mum, crying on the phone.

'I think that was the worst moment of this day, because you could see people telling their last words, because they thought they would be dead.'


Setting the wrong (ring)tone on Match of the Day

After appearing at the 2006 World Cup with Togo, his side would unfortunately not reach the tournament held in South Africa four years later.

Adebayor though was still part of the experience, featuring often for the BBC as a pundit on their live Match of the Day broadcasts.

However, he was left fumbling for his phone rather than words after his device started ringing on air (twice!) during one broadcast that left co-pundit Alan Shearer and host Gary Lineker reflecting with amusement.

The striker though was shocked by his sudden interruption, firstly dumping his phone on the table having been broken off in mid-flow and then after the phone started ringing again he was seen on air desperately trying to turn his device off or even put it on silent.  


Landing a winner's medal

Despite his talent, Adebayor didn't pick up many winner's medals during his career although he was a proud African footballer of the year in 2008.

Yet he did eventually get to lift a trophy during his loan spell at Real Madrid from City in 2010 as he helped them lift the Copa del Rey.

That wasn't all what he was famed for at the Bernabeu though, as his two goals in a Champions League quarter-final helped dump Tottenham out of the competition 5-0 on aggregate. 

Pioneer in tackling fans over offensive chants

It was during that quarter-final win over Tottenham that the striker was subjected to supporter abuse from Spurs fans following his two-goal salvo.

The chant heard featured the line: 'Your dad washes elephants, your mother's a whore' - something which Adebayor claimed was racist.

At the time Tottenham condemned the song, but denied it was racist in nature and UEFA confirmed after the match that no action would be taken against the club.

But Adebayor reached out to Spurs fans to plead with them to stop singing the song, while suggesting he was willing to still sign for the club. Something he would do just a few months later.

'I heard about the chants and I felt so bad because before joining Real Madrid, my first choice was Tottenham,'

'When I heard the songs I didn't take it seriously. I didn't take it in a bad way at all but it was bad because people today have to realise that we are footballers. Today we play for this club and the next day we might end up playing for them.

'I would go there and sign for them. Maybe those fans were furious because I was scoring against them. Maybe they were thinking like that because Adebayor was taking them out of the Champions League and ending their dream of getting to the final.'

'Fans have to try to control their emotions, as we do as footballers,' he added. 'They have to tell the fans: "please, try to control your emotions. We are all human beings".

'What is the point in going into a stand and singing a song that you know is racist and then going out into the street and saying to me: "I'm not racist, come to Tottenham".

'Football is a game. Don't get me wrong, there is money and other things in it too, but it's still only a game.'

Derby hero to zero in eight minutes

Not only did Adebayor love a goal at the Emirates Stadium wearing an Arsenal shirt, he enjoyed finding the net while wearing a Tottenham strip too.

Following his surprise move to Spurs in 2011, he netted a penalty kick during a 5-2 defeat in 2012 before finding the target again the following season in the same year as he looked to guide Spurs to victory with the opening goal.

The trouble was after his tenth minute strike he was sent off just eight minutes later after a studs up challenge on Santi Cazorla, triggering a Spurs collapse that resulted in his side losing 5-2... again.

Salute to Sherwood

Adebayor's initial loan to Spurs under Harry Redknapp was a success and while things didn't gel with his successor Andre Villas-Boas the following year, Tim Sherwood managed to get a tune out of the striker during his short reign in the second half of the 2013-14 season.

In fact, having only played one game in the first 16, his first Premier League start before Christmas that term saw him net twice at Southampton where he started to celebrate with a salute in front of supporters as he bagged 11 goals in the second half of the campaign.

As the goals started to trickle in his rapport with Sherwood grew to the point that they started saluting each other, with a 5-1 win over Sunderland producing an amusing moment where even assistant boss Chris Ramsey couldn't help getting caught up in the moment

Seeing red in Paraguay

It took barely a month for Adebayor to make an impact in Paraguay.

The trouble though was that impact was in the face of an opponent during his short stay at Paraguayan side Olimpia back in 2020. 

In the 72nd minute of the game, the striker was seen going in for an aerial challenge, but appeared to have his eyes completely fixated on the ball and oblivious to the Justicia player that is standing in front of him. 

He lunged in recklessly and brought his right leg up high with both feet off the ground. He made contact with the player's shoulder and was lucky not to kick him in the face, with the opposition star stumbling over and wincing in agony.

Adebayor realised his mistake immediately and held his hands up, but he was afforded no sympathy as the referee still pointed him towards his early exit.