2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™

11 June - 11 July

2010 FIFA World Cup™

Adebayor: It may be Africa's turn

Emmanuel Adebayor, who ably stepped into Thierry's Henry's big boots this season at Arsenal with 24 goals, is a member of the much-heralded 'golden generation' of Africans players currently making their mark in Europe.

The Togolese ace recently sat down for an exclusive chat with FIFA.com to take aim at such targets as the changing perceptions of African footballers on the so-called old continent, Togo's hopes of reaching their second world finals and his firm belief that 2010 may just be the year that an African nation wins the FIFA World Cup.

Read on to see all that Arsenal's free-scoring goal getter has to say about Africa, the Gunners and his high hopes for an upset at the 2010 finals.

FIFA.com: With a large number of African players like yourself making waves on the European club scene, do you think perceptions of African players are beginning to change?
Emmanuel Adebayor: Our role in changing the negative views about Africa in the minds of people across the globe is what is crucial. The perception that Africans are lazy has been tossed out of the window. Because of our performance the world is now aware that - when given the chance - an African can also do it.

*How do the current African players measure up against past greats like Roger Milla and George Weah? * Players before us like Roger Milla, Abedi Pele, George Weah and Nwankwo Kanu paved the way. Our role in this generation is to build on what they did and also pave the way for future players.

You nearly single-handedly brought Togo to their first FIFA World Cup in Germany in 2006. Do you think, with the next finals being hosted on the continent, it might just be time for an African team to win it?
With all these African players who have made the European leagues exciting it is only fair that the World Cup was brought to Africa. Perhaps an African country can even win it.

*What do you think of Togo's chances of getting back to the finals in 2010? * The whole of Togo went crazy when we qualified for the World Cup because of the pride it brought to our small country. Qualifying for an African World Cup will be the greatest and I know the fans in my country will go even crazier. The experience of participating at the World Cup itself is elating. To have the entire world focusing on us for four weeks was a dream come true. No one knows when the next World Cup will be held in Africa again, so I definitely don't want to miss it.

There have been a lot of people doubting the ability of South Africa to host a FIFA World Cup. How do you respond to the criticism?
It is just like an African player going to play in Europe. Initially there will be doubts about your ability. Like the African player, when South Africa starts achieving its goals - like it did during the Preliminary Draw in Durban - those same people who had doubts about you will start praising you. And I know the world will start praising South Africa soon. The draw in Durban was very successful and because the world media was there to see it, the perception (of South Africa 2010) is changing.

With Thierry Henry having left Arsenal at the start of the current season, the pressure on you to fill his boots must have been massive.
The media said we will not stand on our own without Thierry, so I wanted to prove them wrong by showing that I can bring something special to Arsenal. I relaxed, so I enjoyed the matches, and with it came the amazing goals and fantastic wins. It makes me laugh sometimes, because the same media who wrote us off are now saying we are the best.

How does it feel to be one Arsene Wenger's great footballing finds?
The very best of French football, like Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry, were recruited by Wenger and to be considered in that category is something really special. It defies description.

How important is Arsenal in the life of Emmanuel Adebayor?
Arsenal is home for me, because we live like a family. It is the best place to be. We the African players, like Kolo (Toure), (Emmanuel) Eboue and Song (Alexandre) bring our culture to the other players. They learn from it and respect it and that makes our dressing room like a home.

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