Somehow, Emmanuel Adebayor has managed to play for some of the top clubs in the world (and Tottenham) yet at 31, he finds himself without a club and with only one medal in his pocket having been released by Spurs.

His was a story that could have been so different but the problems were there for all to see when he was at Arsenal and although every club might have felt they could be the one to get the best out of him, they have all, ultimately failed, as has his home nation.

Arsene Wenger, (L) manager of Arsenal, talks to Arsenal's Togolese player Emmanuel Adebayor during a training session at Arsenal's training facility in London Colney, north of London on the eve of their UEFA Champions League Quarter Final second leg match against Villarreal, on April 14, 2009. AFP PHOTO/IAN KINGTON
Arsene Wenger, (L) manager of Arsenal, talks to Arsenal’s Togolese player Emmanuel Adebayor during a training session at Arsenal’s training facility in London Colney, north of London on the eve of their UEFA Champions League Quarter Final second leg match against Villarreal, on April 14, 2009. AFP PHOTO/IAN KINGTON

It is a story that Mario Balotelli could do well to heed unless, like Adebayor, he seems content with the money that he is making without fulfilling any of the potential he so clearly has.

When Adebayor arrived at Arsenal in 2006 for just £3m he had the world at his feet. Scoring on his debut, he would end that season with four goals in ten games, following that up with 12 in 44 the next season. But it was the 2007/08 season that showed us all what he was really about – scoring 30 in 48 – he had arrived as a top level striker.

Then it all went to his head.

He wanted more money and in a pattern that would repeat throughout his career, only ever seemed to play to his full potential when a new contract was on the horizon.

That Arsene Wenger got Manchester City to part with £25m for him in 2009 will always be one of the best bits of business in football.

Again, scoring on his debut, Adebayor would never match his 07/08 season with Arsenal, not even passing 20 in a season since he left let alone 30.

Manchester City's Togolese forward Emmanuel Adebayor (L) celebrates infront of the Arsenal fans after scoring during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Arsenal at The City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester, north-west England on September 12, 2009. AFP PHOTO/Andrew Yates
Manchester City’s Togolese forward Emmanuel Adebayor (L) celebrates infront of the Arsenal fans after scoring during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Arsenal at The City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester, north-west England on September 12, 2009. AFP PHOTO/Andrew Yates

Half a season on loan with Real Madrid brought his City career to a close and then it was off to Tottenham, the dumping ground for Arsenal players who thought they were bigger than the club.

Again, he scored on his debut as he looked to ingratiate to his latest set of fans but, like his career at Arsenal and then City, he could never master himself long enough to be a real asset and, instead, became another liability at yet another club.

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When he eventually hangs up his boots, no doubt the money in his bank account will help him feel better about things but he could have had so much more.

To play for Arsenal, City and Real Madrid and end up with only one Copa del Rey medal in your career takes some doing, but that’s all he has.

Tottenham Hotspur's Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor looks on during the English FA cup third round football match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 4, 2014. Arsenal won the game 2-0. AFP PHOTO/ADRIAN DENNIS
Tottenham Hotspur’s Togolese striker Emmanuel Adebayor looks on during the English FA cup third round football match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 4, 2014. Arsenal won the game 2-0. AFP PHOTO/ADRIAN DENNIS

A handful of individual honours (goal of the month (sept 07), goal of the season (07/08), member of the team of the year (07/08), African player of the year (2008) and Togo player of the year (05, 06, 07, 08) tell the story of his career – at Arsenal he found himself and he has never been able to reach those heights again since leaving the club.

A man who, the story goes, could not walk for the first four years of his life yet somehow managed to pull himself up to the very top of the footballing world should not be one to simply throw it all away, but that’s what he has done.

His should be an inspiring story, not a depressing one or cautionary tale.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 12: Emmanuel Adebayor of Manchester City celebrates in front of the Arsenal fans after scoring during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the City of Manchester Stadium on September 12, 2009 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 12: Emmanuel Adebayor of Manchester City celebrates in front of the Arsenal fans after scoring during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the City of Manchester Stadium on September 12, 2009 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

For as much as Arsenal fans despise him, his tale is a sad one that could have been so very, very different.

The thing is, if you asked him, he’d probably do it all again and not change a single thing and Tim Sherwood is kidding himself if he thinks that Ade would ‘play for nothing’ as he said before the striker’s contract was cancelled.

“I would not hesitate. If he had the desire to want to come and play football again, I would have taken him in a heartbeat,” Sherwood said.

“It’s not financial. It’s easy to say that when you’re on his money, but he would genuinely play for nothing. It’s not his fault he’s not part of their plans.”

That’s the thing, Tim – it’s exactly his fault.

No-one else.