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Manolito Adebayor at AS

March 11, 2011

The Santiago Bernabéu is already chanting his name, and if Manolito Adebayor hasn’t won you over yet, this interview might help.  In it, we find out that he cut off his dreadlocks because Real Madrid is a serious institution, that he considers Fernando Morientes an older brother, and that Mesut Özil reminds him of the importance of being on time.  I love Manu’s mature, team-oriented and unselfish attitude (as well as his admiration for Raúl), which really comes out in his words (and hopefully in my translation too!).

Let’s see if we can help him with his dream of winning a title so he’ll have something to fill his little hands with.

Note: scroll down all the way for a “muy original” picture at the end.

Are you happy?

I was born happy.  No one could be happier than I am now.  Here, I’ve fulfilled a dream and I feel useful once again.

Why did you change your look?

I had dreadlocks for three years, and when I got the opportunity to play in Madrid, I knew that I would have to cut them off.  I didn’t see myself triumphing here with them.  This hairstyle is more adequate for an institution like Madrid.  I’m doing everything possible to integrate.  Here, it’s also warmer than it was in England.

How are you feeling?

There’s a great atmosphere.  Everyone has treated me very well.  I ask myself, “how can I return this wonderful treatment?”  Well, by training as hard as I can and giving it everything I’ve got.  Only in that way will I be able to properly express my gratitude.

What was your childhood like?

It wasn’t easy.  I wasn’t born with a silver spoon (fun fact – in Spanish, it’s diamond spoon) in my mouth.  It was very difficult.  We all know how poor Africa is.  I’m from Togo, one of the poorest countries on the continent.  I took a risk going to France at the age of 15 and everything turned out like a fairy tale.  I give thanks to God, because He’s always been by my side.  Each time I go through a difficult moment, He helps me.  My childhood wasn’t the worst, but it wasn’t easy either.  Now I am a professional footballer and I play for the biggest team in the world.

What did your parents to?

My parents were Nigerians who emigrated to Togo.  That’s my country.  My father was a bank manager, and my mother had her own small business selling things.  In 2005, my father passed away.  It’s a typical African history.  I don’t regret anything in my past and I’m proud to be African.

[A couple of questions about how he went to France, then the move to Monaco, where he was a teammate of Fernando Morientes.]

How did Morientes treat you?

I have a good feeling with him.  He was my professor.  He told me that he understood what I was going through, because the same thing had happened to him.  He told me to never give up, to keep moving forward and that I had everything I needed to triumph.  After we made it into the final of the Champions, the prince of Monaco invited us to his house to congratulate us.  That day, Morientes took me aside and told me that I was fantastic, that I was going to get far and I would play in a bigger club.  I felt that his words had come from the heart and I adopted him as an older brother.

Morientes talked about how you asked him about Madrid.

Of course!  The first thing I asked him was if he could get me Raúl’s shirt!  (Laughs).  For me, it was a dream to be with someone who knew what it was like to play with Madrid.  I think I overwhelmed him with questions.  I asked him what it was like to win the Champions; what it was like to play in Madrid; what Zidane and Figo were like… I asked him to invite Raúl to one of our games and he did.  One day, I ran into Raúl in our locker room.  I couldn’t believe it!  From that day, I began to fall in love with Madrid.  I had a lot of affection for Morientes.  He was very modest, he cleaned his own boots and shirts.  He became my idol, an example to follow.

Which Real Madrid player did you like the most?

Zidane made me dream.  After him, Raúl of course.  He always scored goals and did his part.  And not only during one or two years, but for more than 10.  And he continues to do so.  I’m sure we’ll see each other soon.  I would like to talk with him.

Have you spoken with Zidane?

We share the same boot brand and I’ve met him.  He knows how much I admire him.

With Monaco, you lost in the final of the Champions to Mourinho’s Oporto.

The world found out who Mourinho was from that final.  It was a golden opportunity that we let slip by.  Mou came out with a different system, surprising us.  It was very hard to accept.

And now Mourinho can make you win.

I hope so.  That’s why I came here.  I’ve made a name for myself and I’ve played on the top level for many years, but my hands are empty.  For me, the most important thing is winning titles.  When I went to Arsenal, I never imagined that I wouldn’t win anything.  Here, I have to do everything possible for that to happen.  We have a lot of possibilities in the Copa del Rey.  We also have possibilities in the Champions, but that’s further away.  In the Liga, there’s a seven-point difference and it’s not easy, but it’s not over yet.  Imagine if Barça fails against Sevilla and we win everything including el clásico.  We could make up six points.

[Talk about his time at Arsenal.]

Tell me about the tragedy you lived through with the national team.

It was the worst moment of my life.  It’s something that made me grow up.  Now I know that in the blink of an eye, you can lose your life.  For me, the most important thing is to enjoy life.  I was born happy and now I’m even more so.  I could be dead and instead I’m alive and playing in Madrid.  What else could I ask for?  Nothing.

Do you speak with Kodjovi Obilale, the goalkeeper who’s now in a wheelchair?

In Africa, we call our friends “brothers.”  He was my brother before that, but all of us who were on that bus have gotten even closer since the tragedy.  Obilale and I speak every day and anything he needs from me, he has.  What happened to him could have happened to me.  He was only two rows ahead of me and now he can’t even walk.

You no longer play with your national team.  Will you return one day?

At the moment, my decision has not changed.  It’s difficult to understand how it’s possible that my Federation doesn’t help Obilale after he received three bullets while representing his country.

That was your worst moment.  Was the best when Madrid called you in January?

Yes, but it was also very stressful.  When they told me that City and Madrid had agreed on terms and that I had to travel to Madrid, I couldn’t eat for 48 hours due to stress.  I wasn’t even playing with City and Madrid signed me.  I thought it was a joke until I arrived at Valdebebas and I met Mourinho and Zidane.  That’s when it hit me and I started believing.

And the cheesy posing starts… now.

What did Mourinho tell you?

To do the best I could, to enjoy playing, to play as I know how and to make an effort.  I’m no longer a 16-year-old boy who needs instructions.  I know how to be a professional.

Who has helped you the most?

Lass.  I helped him when he came to Arsenal.  I showed him where the clothes were kept and the rules of the club.  He’s returned the favor by doing the same for me here.  And Benzema as well, because he’s a great guy and we share a past in France.  Ramos, Cristiano… everyone.  Özil reminded me of how important punctuality is [jajaja!!!] and we work out together in the gym.

Benzema has scored a lot of goals since you arrived.

When I arrived, I said I was here to help Benzema, not hurt him.  As long as I can stay here, I don’t mind if Karim scores 100 goals and I don’t score any.  We’re here to win titles.  I want the Champions, I want to win and individual things don’t matter to me.  Give me a contract saying that we’ll win La Décima 2-0 with two goals from Benzema and I’ll sign it.

Have you given him advice?

I told him that in football, one day you can be the hero and the next day the most criticized  one, so enjoy football.  He’s working very hard and we all have a lot of faith in him.  He arrives early for the training sessions to work out in the gym.

Who do you connect the best with on the field?

I don’t have any preferences.  I have good discussions with Xabi because he speaks English well.  I feel comfortable with Lass and also with Özil, Di María and Benzema.

Does Özil remind you of Zidane?

They have similarities.  He’s a great player.  He has a unique way of looking at the game.  He has two eyes on his face and two more on the back of his head.

Have you realized that you’ve already won over the Bernabéu?

I realized it, I hear the stadium chant my name.  It’s important to feel loved.

Do you like being called Manolito?  [Hmmm, no questions about Adenabor?]

I’m an African man, I don’t care what I’m called.  I know that Manolito is said with affection and shows friendship, so I like that.  In France, I was called Nwanko Kanu.

Do you think you’ll still be here past June?

I hope so.  I will do everything possible to stay here the maximum amount of time possible.

This picture… I cannot even begin to find words for it!!!

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. March 11, 2011 08:18

    You know what? You have done a GREAT job translating his amazing words, I’m crying right now. I literally have tears in my eyes, and it’s not just a figure of speech.

    When I read his words on Raul & Morientes, he reminded me so much of myself as a teenager 14 years ago who falls in love for the 1st time with Raul Gonzalez Blanco and to the greatest team in the world, Real Madrid. How he’s like a little kid talking about his idol. I have such big love for Raul, and his brotherly love with Morientes. That what makes me cry right now. for him to love Real Madrid like that, dare I say as much as I love my team, his seriousness (cutting his dreadlocks! OMG), his gratitude.. He’s an amazing addition for the team I love very dearly. I really really hope he’ll stay with us. It’s not just about talent, but heart. He got it bad for our team.

    And oh, what he said about Benzema! I loooooove it! And it’s true that Benzema has become better since he arrived at Madrid. I hope all of them can stay at Madrid.

    Now, can somebody explain to me what’s the tragedy with his NT? I’m not familiar with the story.

    Thank you Una for such a great post!

  2. March 11, 2011 08:59

    I love that he’s getting along so well with Mesut on and off the pitch.

  3. March 11, 2011 09:00

    And he really has a gorgeous face after the crazy old-woman hair is gone!

  4. March 11, 2011 13:11

    Oh my, I did not expect such a moving interview, it’s wondefrul, thanks UNAMADRIDISTA!!!!

    He’s just precious, the way he talks about Morientes and Raul is so sweet. Besides, I have a total Raul nostalgia recently and I miss him so much!

    And the fact that he talks to his friend Obilale everyday and stands by his side – so precious!

    His gratitude for being and Madrid is super sweet too, he seems so humble here, even though he did not have the reputation of being too humble in EPL 😉

    sweet!

  5. March 11, 2011 13:34

    He came off as self-aware, grateful of the opportunities he’s been given, professional and passionate about Madrid. I really, really hope, from the bottom of my heart, that he stays that way. And also that he’s sincere (it struck me a little bit like his answers were too perfect, like he was saying what he knows the people want him to say). While his form has been exceptional, especially for someone who had to integrate himself into a team so quickly, I still need convincing. His attitude towards his former teams are not encouraging, but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt right now. Besides, if there’s anyone who won’t put up with crap from players, it’s Mou.

    I like the anecdote about him asking for Raul’s shirt. It made me miss Raul (and Morientes) all the more.

  6. March 11, 2011 14:08

    THE. LAST. PIC.

  7. Maddi permalink
    March 11, 2011 15:05

    Thank you so much Una!!! I love his haircut; he looks so handsome now.
    And the pictures… AGAJDFAJFHE….

    It’s really touching that he still keeps in touch with his teammate, and that he seems so humble about everything. I loved when he talked about Zidane, Morientes, and Raul! Also his comments about Benzema make me really happy.

    Overall I’m liking him better and better!

  8. Canon permalink
    March 11, 2011 15:35

    Una, did you translated “RealMourinho”?
    Just i cannot find that interview in your blog…

  9. Nurul permalink
    March 11, 2011 17:22

    This is a fantastic interview! I love how he speaks about Morientes. Thanks for the translation, Una!

  10. gabriela permalink
    March 11, 2011 18:00

    I already had a soft spot for him, now I just want to hug him! I want him to stay!

    “Give me a contract saying that we’ll win La Décima 2-0 with two goals from Benzema and I’ll sign it.”

    D’awww :’)

    The last pic, though.
    What. On. Earth.
    If he was brazillian I would totally say he is a funkeiro, pagodeiro or something in the likes. smh

  11. Jenny permalink
    March 11, 2011 18:45

    I was thrilled when he signed, because I admired his playing and I knew about his tragic history (the terror attack, his inability to walk) and how intelligent he was (he was a BBC pundit during the World Cup) – but he’s made me love him even more!

  12. mar permalink
    March 11, 2011 19:08

    I like his answers…go happy boy!

  13. Ava Mendez permalink
    March 11, 2011 19:28

    what does Adenabor mean??

  14. ebrahim permalink
    March 11, 2011 19:33

    I love raul and zidane they are the reason I support the biggest club in the world. The fact ea recognizes the importance of the tenth as well as that of raul and zidane shows he belongs here. He constantly refers to Real Madrid as the biggest club in the world, that is how every madridsta sees this great club!

    He is one of us :). Much like higuain wrote his name on my heart my quoting raul, EA has done the same. We have lyon in a big game this week I just hope its not more heart break win or lose. I am forever white till I die!

  15. mila_casillas permalink
    March 11, 2011 20:16

    Thank you for translating this. I loved the whole thing. :’)

    But omg the last pic. I laugh each time I look at it.

  16. ToujoursPetite permalink
    March 12, 2011 03:17

    Firstly– Not a single thumbs up in sight!!! Way to start your own trends, Manu! I’m actually really loving these original pictures; finally, someone who isn’t afraid to be different, hahaha

    Secondly– I love the personal details that were revealed in this interview; when he says he’s a happy guy, (I’ve read him saying that a lot) I can actually believe it; coming from someone who’s been through what he has, I can believe that he appreciates and loves everything that he has. An attitude like that is always refreshing to find in footballers, in my opinion.

  17. blitzen permalink
    March 12, 2011 03:44

    I’m a cule, but I have to say this is a great interview. Adebayor has had his issues in the past (I have a standing bet over who he will fall out with first at RM), but he comes across here as a player who is thrilled to have a second (or third or fourth) chance and is committed to doing his very best for his new club. He has impressed me so far, and I hope he gets his wish and is signed permanently.

  18. March 12, 2011 06:22

    lol your comment that the posing is original..I thought you were being sarcastic and that there would be cheesy thumbs-up pictures again! but this..i can’t even begin to find words for it O_O

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