Adebayor's Aids mission
Arsenal striker talks to Sportsworld's Carrie Brown about his life-saving goal.
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2008 13:10 GMT

Two teams, one goal [UNAIDS]

It is rare for on-pitch battles between Arsenal and Chelsea to be described in measured terms, and the latest encounter between the London rivals was no exception.

Speculation has raged about the 'crisis' at Arsenal after defeats to low-placed sides, and now the spotlight has turned to league-leaders Chelsea after the Gunners beat them 2-1 on Sunday.

Two key players in the heated derby encounter were Arsenal's Emmanuel Adebayor and Chelsea's Michael Ballack. 

Yet less than 24 hours later the pair are uniting for a cause that goes far beyond the importance of English Premier League points – World Aids Day.

Adebayor on Monday told Al Jazeera why he decided to ask Ballack – a United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS) goodwill ambassador -  if he could help him with his work to raise awareness of the cause.

And he also revealed his belief that Arsenal have the maturity and talent to stage a fightback for this season's title.

Joint effort

"For me joining Michael on this is very important because I know the popularity of football and I know what it means to all the people who love the game and sport," said Adebayor.

"So to be honest today we are not talking about rivals we are talking about what we can do to help people."

Africa's Aids pandemic means the cause is particularly significant for the striker.

"We know that every single day – today, tomorrow – 5,500 people will die of Aids," he said.

"So we have to try and stop that and we need the help of everyone to stop that happening.

"We need to go to heads of state, government people. Tell them that instead of using money on weapons or war, they need to focus on welfare.

"I will do everything I can do to save some lives in Africa."

High price to pay

He was particularly critical of the high premium placed on anti-retroviral drugs by pharmaceutical companies.

"To be honest I'm really upset with that," said Adebayor.

"These are the things I cannot understand, because rich people can have Aids and poor people can have Aids so they have to try.

"I'm begging them with all my God - to try their best to make it less money so every single person can get treatment."

Football has put Adebayor and Ballack in a position to help, and one of the things that has made the Togo striker an icon is his tally of 30 goals last season, which saw him finish runner-up for the Golden Boot.

Trophy target

On a flyer last season [GALLO/GETTY]
"This year I will just try and win the Golden Boot and just try and win something with my club, Arsenal," he told Al Jazeera.

"Because we know it is three years now, Arsenal always end the season with empty hands and this time we want to turn that around and try and win something.

"We had a difficult start to the season but I think if we come back and tell ourselves we can still do it and we believe in ourselves then we can do it.

"We have talented players: Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott, Robin Van Persie, myself...I don't need to list all the names, you know them already.

"So I think to be honest the most important thing is putting it in our heads that we can do it."

Winning it with kids

And he doesn't believe the youth in Arsenal's side will make it a matter of time before silverware is back in the North London club's trophy cabinet.

"Matter of time? I think the time has come," he said.
"I'm 24, 25 soon. Cesc Fabregas is going to be 22 soon so we need to win. I feel sorry for those who say we are young.

"Now it is time to win something. I think you can see how last year Manchester United won the European Champions League and the Premier League with Ronaldo.

"Ronaldo is not 29, he's 22 or 23. Rooney is not 40 -  Rooney is 23.

"So they are still young and they have won things. And that's why we are fighting for now and we don't care how young we are."

Wenger factor

Wenger has guided Arsenal to huge success in the last 12 years [AFP]
Coach Arsene Wenger has come in for criticism over faltering performances in the early stages of the season, but Adebayor knows the Frenchman's capability for turning decent players into world stars.

"He's like a professor," said the striker.

"He'll tell us what we can do and what we can not do. We all know the talent he has and what he has done.

"For example, taking Thierry Henry from nothing putting him where he is today. Taking Patrick Vieira from nothing putting him where he is today.

"He has changed my level and turned me into a different player.

"Every day when I wake up I always think of these things so if I can help him win things I have to push 100 per cent and always be there for him."

Tough for Togo

But Adebayor is less certain of Togo's ability to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

"I cannot say yes, I cannot say no. I will do everything but it is not certain," he said.

"We have Cameroon and I know (Samuel) Eto'o will do the same. We have Gabon and I know (Daniel) Cousin will try to do the same. We have Morrocco and I know (Mustapha) Hadji - who I know very well - will try and do the same.

"Togo have a small squad but we believe in our talent and believe in our spirit and we trust our fans to be following us to help us reach the World Cup finals again."

Al Jazeera
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