Emmanuel Adebayor to emerge from Tottenham wilderness.. in a country that doesn't exist
Thursday's Europa League hosts FC Sheriff are champions of Moldova but based in the breakaway republic of Transnistria
They think it’s Moldova... but it’s not really, writes Mike Walters in Tiraspol.
Forgotten man Emmanuel Adebayor will get the chance to reboot his Tottenham career on Thursday - in a country which does not exist.
Spurs could seal a place in the Europa League knockout stages by beating Moldovan champions FC Sheriff in, er, the breakaway republic of Transnistria, which has its own army, currency, passports, flag and postal service – as long as you do not expect the postcards to travel far.Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas confirmed Adebayor – banished to train with the youth team last month – could make his first appearance of the season against a side whose coach Veaceslav Rusnac admitted: “Probably there are areas of Europe who think we only have a lot of vodka and bears, but it’s not so.”
Adebayor was frozen out by AVB after a period of compassionate leave following the death of the Togo striker’s brother.
But with new England star Andros Townsend rested and left at home by the Londoners, along with Kyle Walker and Paulinho, he could feature in a corner of Tiraspol, where tanks, communist memorials and statues of Lenin adorn the main drag.
AVB said: “Adebayor has travelled and there’s a chance he could be involved.”
Geographically, Transnistria is part of Moldova and not recognised as a sovereign state by any other nation.
But it takes for ever to cross the “border” from Moldova, and Russian is the prescribed language.
Spurs midfielder Lewis Holtby said: “Until the draw was made, I’d never heard of Sheriff – I thought they might be from Northern Ireland.
“But coming to places like this is always an experience.
“Transnistria is a new country for me. I only heard of it 20 minutes before we got here, but it’s improved my geography.
“I can tell my grandchildren I played in a part of Moldova that isn’t Moldova.”
Sheriff's second-in-command Juan Ferrando, once Cesc Fabregas’s personal trainer at Arsenal, said: “What a Tottenham player takes home in a week is equivalent to our annual budget.”