THE BLOG
20/09/2015 17:06 BST | Updated 20/09/2016 06:12 BST

Emmanuel Adebayor Deserves Respect as a Troubled Premier League Great

This Sunday, there was a quiet announcement that one of the Premier League's greatest strikers was being released from his club. There was no great fanfare, no real tributes and if anything, a sense of relief from fans of the club that he was gone.

In case you're a bit slow in catching on, we're talking about Emmanuel Adebayor here. Yes, Emmanuel Adebayor, one of the Premier League's greatest strikers. Keep your questions till the end, please...

If you're the type who likes 'greatness' to be about the numbers, then here's a few for you. Adebayor has, so far, scored 96 goals in the Premier League - that's eight less than Didier Drogba, one of the undisputed modern greats and in 29 fewer games to boot.

Dennis Bergkamp? Adebayor's scored more than him. Teddy Sheringham and Dwight Yorke? Adebayor scored more goals per game than both of them - and was within one goal of Robbie Fowler's ratio, too.

It's fairly simple laid out like that. In terms of numbers alone, it's entirely reasonable to put Adebayor into the conversation when talking about the league's greatest front men, so why doesn't he get the acclaim?

Part of it is to do with his famous inconsistency - another of the myths surrounding the former African Player of the Year, his up and down goalscoring tallies have been less to do with his own performances and more to do with the environments around him. Ever since his breakthrough 2007/08 season with Arsenal, he's hit double figures in every season that he's started 20 league games. It's fairly simple - play him, and he scores. Leave him on the bench and his goalscoring tallies drop. It's almost as if players need to be on the pitch to score goals.

Given the stop-start nature of his career, it's a miracle he's still managed to find goalscoring form wherever he's gone. Even just over a year ago, written off by many, he showed that all he needs is decent handling to go on brilliant runs of goalscoring form, scoring eleven top flight goals between the end of December and the end of the season under Tim Sherwood.

A similar run of form for Christian Benteke got him a £32million move to Liverpool. For Adebayor, it got him dropped in favour of Harry Kane when Mauricio Pochettino took over. There are mitigating factors obviously, such as Adebayor's age, but that only goes for the transfer - there's no reason not to play a 30-year-old striker in sparkling form.

The same happened at City. 14 goals from 26 games in his first season saw him dropped the next term in favour of Mario Balotelli, Edin Dzeko and Jo. That trio totalled eight goals from 44 appearances between them. Adebayor started just two league games all season, and ended up loaned out to Real Madrid. Not good enough for Manchester City, good enough for Real Madrid.

The fact that Adebayor hasn't joined the seven players who have scored 150 Premier League goals is down to massive mismanagement, and coaches underestimating him wherever he's gone. Emmanuel Adebayor is never, ever done.

He's been through things in his career that could easily have destroyed him. He's carried wounded team-mates to a hospital after a terrorist attack on his team's bus left three men dead and others with gunshot wounds. One of the men who died, died in Adebayor's arms. He's woken up with his brother holding a knife to his throat and threatening to kill him. He's even admitted to suffering from 'many' suicidal episodes. And through it all, he's kept scoring goals.

When he talked about the latter two issues last season, the reaction from his team was incredibly telling - more along the lines of "well now we're never going to be able to sell him" instead of "we should probably help this guy out, eh?".

If there's any justice in the world, Adebayor will find a new club quickly and have a successful swansong, maybe bashing a couple of double-digit seasons for Aston Villa under Tim Sherwood who, for all his faults as a manager, does actually appear to genuinely care about his players.

Whatever happens next, wherever he goes, whatever he does, Emmanuel Adebayor deserves respect. To have gone through his career, with detractors and personal issues at every step and still have made a success of it? He might just be one of the strongest people in English football, and it's time to start treating him like it.

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