Tottenham striker Emmanuel Adebayor insists poor organization by the Togo Football Federation, and not his own laziness, was the reason behind his late return to Spurs following the African Nations Cup.
Adebayor claims the Togolese Football Federation left him and his teammates stranded in a hotel in South Africa for four days while they tried to fly to Togo to meet the country's president, who wanted to see the team after its historic progression to the quarterfinals.
What happened to Adebayor in the week following Togo's exit from the continental competition was a source of mystery and frustration for Tottenham fans.
Togo was eliminated on Feb. 3, but despite the fact that he was Tottenham's only fit striker, Adebayor did not land back in England until five days later -- less than 24 hours before the club's crucial Premier League game against Newcastle.
"I read about (criticism), but, I was just trying to help my teammates in the national team," Adebayor said following Thursday night's 1-1 draw in Lyon. "We went out on the Sunday, then we tried to find a plane to go to Togo to see the family and the president.
"It took us four days to get a plane. On Thursday I had to call the president (Faure Gnassingbe) to tell him we had to leave South Africa. He told us to get to the airport at 4 p.m. We did, and we ended up staying at the airport for more than 10, 12 hours."
Adebayor says the team arrived in Togo on Friday morning, which meant he could only return to London later that day when Spurs chartered a private jet to get him back to England.
Spurs fans tore into Adebayor for a perceived lack of commitment, but the striker insists he was not to blame.
"That's not my fault, I couldn't do anything. I can't just put something on my body and fly from South Africa to London," Adebayor said. "I couldn't just abandon my team. We went to the quarterfinals of African Nations Cup, which was historical for my country.
"I could not just jump on a plane and come back to Tottenham, because the president of the country wanted to see us and congratulate us. I am the captain so I have to be there. So that's what I did. Then I got the flight the club sent to me."
Adebayor has often lashed out at the TFF over what he sees as an unprofessional approach to organizing a national football team.
He was so worried that the federation would not organize sufficient security around the team in South Africa that he feared there could be a repeat of the deadly gun attack on the team in Angola three years ago.
Adebayor had to have face-to-face talks with President Gnassingbe before agreeing to play in the tournament.
"When Ivory Coast went out of the tournament, the president of the federation sent them a plane to get back," Adebayor said. "With Togo, it's not the same. You want to think about football but that's not the case with Togo. You have to concentrate on what you are going to eat, where you are going to sleep. ... That's what I have been doing for the last 10 years."
Things have not gone smoothly for Adebayor at club level this year either. Tottenham made Adebayor one of their top targets last summer after he scored 18 goals in 37 games, but since he moved to Spurs permanently, it has been a different story for the hitman.
The former Manchester City man has scored just three times this season. He has not shown the same energy and passion he displayed last term, leading to suggestions that he is not as committed to the club as he was last season.
Adebayor pays little attention to those theories, however.
"I've seen people dying in front of me. I've seen people with guns so I take 30,000 people abusing me as a joke," he said. "It's a part of life. I'm used to it already. I get a tough time but I have to keep going because I could have been worse."
Tottenham's 1-1 draw in Lyon on Thursday night means Adebayor and his teammates have a good chance of lifting the Europa League this season -- providing they overcome Inter Milan in the last 16.
The main priority for Spurs is beating Arsenal to fourth place in the Premier League -- something that Adebayor would take great pride in achieving.
"For me it's a big opportunity to show people I was right to leave Arsenal, which means finishing on top of them. If that's with Tottenham it's even better," he said.
Information from Press Association was used in this report.