‘If I can add my name to that particular list I will be very happy because it means in 15, 20 or 100 years when people are talking about African players that scored in the FA Cup Final, they will mention my name.’
As he enters the autumnal years of his career in England, Emmanuel Adebayor’s personal priorities appear to have finally changed.
Gone are the days of contractual disputes with clubs, fallouts with managers, family conflicts and turbulent relationships with supporters.
Instead, the Crystal Palace forward has a distinguishable determination about him to finally make his mark on English football with some silverware, and in doing so, place his name alongside childhood hero Kanu, Didier Drogba and Yaya Touré as African stars to score the winner in the world’s most famous cup competition.
However, time is not on the 32-year-old’s side and his future in England will be under the spotlight once again when his contract with Palace expires after Saturday’s trip to Wembley.
But, unlike a year ago when his spell at Tottenham ended with a stand-off with chairman Daniel Levy over his contract, Adebayor now feels relaxed about what lies ahead and is not looking beyond the weekend Wembley showdown with Manchester United.
‘We’ve got the FA Cup Final, let’s play that first. For me the most important thing is to play football again,’ he says.
‘Hopefully next season I will sign early for a club.’
‘A lot of people think I cannot play anymore. I would have loved to have scored a few more goals, played more games and have more assists but I had not been playing for almost a year before joining Crystal Palace.
‘It was not easy for me. Hopefully next season I will sign early for a club and if it’s Crystal Palace that’s fine.
‘But the most important thing now is to win the final and then we will talk and see what happens. I don’t have any pressure to go anywhere. I’ll do what I want, as I want it.’
Adebayor only became aware of the FA Cup in 1999 when he arrived in France – aged just 15 – from his native Togo to play for Metz.
But the showpiece occasion immediately captured his attention and served as a motivating factor to make the grade in France and then earn himself a move to England.
‘I saw all the big players in it like Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp, Roy Keane,’ he recalls.
‘The final is quite big in France so for me to be here now, when I look back at last season when I was not playing and even this season when I wasn’t playing until January, it’s just a beautiful thing.
‘I have been beaten by Chelsea in the semi-final with Tottenham. I’ve had a couple of chances to watch the final on TV but this year it’s a different story because I’m in the final.
‘We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs this season but we’ve fought.’
‘Let us get out of there and see what we can do. We all want our names to be in the history books so we have to give everything to win the game.
‘I don’t know if I’m going to start or be on the bench but at the end of the day it’s about the spirit.
‘We are together as a team and we’ve been through a lot of ups and downs this season but we’ve fought through it and we have a huge belief. That’s what’s going to make us win against Manchester United.’
Palace will be underdogs against Louis van Gaal’s side at Wembley but Adebayor is under no illusions about the pressure their opponents will be under on Saturday having experienced similar pressures during his years at Arsenal and Manchester City.
‘I have been around and in other clubs where it’s more like a business and you have to get the job done; win every game and be serious all the time,’ he points out.
‘Here, at Palace, there is a combination of both. You have to be serious and you have to be relaxed which is what I like about it.’
‘It’s beautiful to be in a different club to what I have seen in my career. It’s a family club and when you wake up in the morning you come to the training ground and you laugh a lot because there are a lot of jokes.’
After Saturday’s final, Adebayor will aim to resolve his future with Palace before returning home to resume his other passion of leading his foundation’s work in supporting youth projects in Togo and across Africa.
Formed in 2014, the SEA Foundation is striving to support the Togolese government by creating initiatives and development schemes for poverty-stricken areas of the country.
Adebayor reveals he is planning to meet president Faure Gnassingbé ahead of Togo’s match with Zambia at the end of the month to discuss a potential partnership with the government, but will continue to fund the foundation solely from his own pocket.
‘I use my own money from the beginning to the end.’
‘I’m looking forward to working with the president of the country to see how we can help,’ he says.
‘I think you know what is good with my foundation is I never knock on any door to ask for money, I use my own money from the beginning to the end. I finance everything myself, so I will do what I can do to help the people.
‘I’m planning to do something from the north to the south because they love me there. In every village people will see me and they will be happy. I can’t wait to get there.
‘I could use my own image and name to ask for money but I want to do it on my own, which means it’s coming from me.
‘I owe that to my country and I owe that to my continent.’
Crystal Palace will be playing Man United for the FA Cup Final at 17:30 BST on May 21.