In an interview given to Uefa.com the Togolese striker has talked at length about those he admires in football and whose help he has come to value. He has made little secret of his idolisation of the former Gunner and Nigerian forward Kanu. In explaining how this came about he tells us:
“When I was young Kanu was named best player of the tournament in the U17 world cup and I also remember the Olympic games when he scored 2 goals against Brazil in added time and since that day -well – there`s a certain resemblance. I`m tall; he`s as tall as I am. We are physically built in the same way so since that day I said yes – he`s my role model. You have the impression he was playing in his back yard.
The first thing I asked Arsene when I came Arsenal was if the number 25 was available and the answer was – even Kanu`s locker was available! You can imagine the rest. I was very proud. I was lucky because Arsene gave me Kanu’s phone number and when I called him one day he told me not to tarnish his name. When a great player like Kanu says that to you – even if he didn`t have the career people expected because of illness. He said ” Manu – people wanted you because you have talent. Show the people you can be better than Kanu.”
As a 19 year old when transferred from FC Metz to Monaco he looked to help from a player who befriended him:
“You know, when you are young and arrive at a club there are experienced players who you have to listen to. When I arrived at Monaco Nonda helped me a lot. He helped me find an apartment. He showed me around the city. What to do. What not to do. Where to go and not to go at night.”
An even loftier world star provided the same support system when he joined Arsenal 3 years later:
“When I arrived at Arsenal I had the same experience with Thierry Henry. He would pick me up in the morning as we lived in the same neighbourhood. After training he waited for me to drive me back home. Come on – it`s Thierry Henry! He means a lot to me. After training I was always in a rush as London has so many restaurants and shops but he asked me to stay with him for ten more minutes to have an extra session in front of the goal. I don`t want to say I have the technique of Thierry Henry but I can score many goals like he does. He would shoot and I would do the same after him. It gave me an edge and taught me how to finish in front of goal. He was the one who taught me always to stay calm.”
A little unkind to mention them perhaps but he might have benefited from some extra work if one or two chances that came his way against West Brom yesterday are anything to go by. He understands the value of continuing to improve though and is quick to point out that he has time to develop.
“I was young – well I still am! I was brought up to learn something new every day in life. The same applies to football. Ronaldinho is strong but he continues learning every day. If he can learn something new everyday I don`t see why I can`t do the same. If Thierry does an extra session ever day after training why shouldn`t Adebayor do this too?”
In the striking stakes particularly but in general at Arsenal he is already one of the older players so it is difficult to see who he could turn to in order to follow his own advice:
“The most important thing is to listen to the older ones who have more experience and follow their advice.”
Perhaps if Charlie George is not fully booked on Legends tours he might chip in an extra 10 minutes here and there.
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