The Togolese national football will be most notably remembered for the terrorist attack on their team bus in 2010. Three people were killed and several players were seriously injured. The incident caused Togo to be banned from the next two AFCONs for safety reasons, however, they bounced back well, making it to the quarter-finals in 2013 for the first time in their history. There was more controversy later that same year when a ‘fake’ Togo team played in a friendly against Bahrain. They lost 3-0 but the Togo FA claimed that no-one had informed them that a match was due to take place. It transpired that a former manager had to put together the side in order to go along with a match-fixing ring in Singapore. On a more positive note, they qualified for their only World Cup back in 2006 but unfortunately lost all of their group matches. They currently sit at 121st in the FIFA rankings and due to a lot of unrest in the country, football is predominantly taking a back seat.
Yoann Folly (Southampton 2003-05)
The story of Yoann Folly is quite a sad one when it comes to professional footballers. He struggled to find a club that he could comfortably call home as injury concerns forced him to keep on moving without ever getting settled. He had to take a premature retirement in 2012 when he was just 27, after playing for nine clubs in his 10-year career.
His spell in England started in 2003 when he was bought by Southampton from St Etienne for a fee of £250,000, arriving at the Saints during a difficult period, as the manager was changed several times and he never really fit in. He eventually moved to Sheffield Wednesday in 2006 after making just 14 league appearances and going on loan three times. Folly also played for Plymouth Argyle, Dagenham & Redbridge and Aberdeen before his previously mentioned retirement.
Unsurprisingly, Folly’s international career never really got off the ground. He played for France, the country of his birth at Under-21 level, turning down Togo call-ups to pursue his French career. Togo eventually won him over, and the sole senior international cap the defensive midfielder won, came against DR Congo in 2008.
Moustapha Salifou (Aston Villa 2007-08)
Moustapha Salifou, or the “Togolese Zindane” to give him his proper title, had an incredibly underwhelming tenure in England. Joining Aston Villa from Swiss side, FC Wil in 2007, he immediately became a fans favourite before he had even taken to the field. “Salifou” was chanted to the tune of ‘Daddy Cool’ on many an occasion, just to show that the fans had high hopes for their new man. In reality, he made just four league appearances during his four years with the club, including two in the Premier League. Despite his minimal impact, Salifou’s cult hero status shall forever be intact.
The midfielder had trials with AS Monaco, but I don’t think anybody was overly shocked when that all fell through. In the end he linked up with FC Saarbrucken in the lower divisions of German football. At his current club, Türkspor Augsburg (I have no idea either) Salifou was banned for eight matches in 2016 for shouting at a referee. I couldn’t find exactly what was said but it must’ve been pretty bad to warrant such a brutal, but slightly funny, penalty. A lot of Salifou’s career has been spent as a free agent as he is constantly being released and finding himself in between clubs. In spite of this, he has still maintained a healthy international career, representing Togo 59 times and scoring six in the process.
Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal 2006-09, Manchester City 2009-12, Tottenham Hotspurs 2011-15, Crystal Palace 2016)
Without a doubt the most famous Togolese player, as well as their top cap winner and goal scorer, Emmanuel Adebayor will be one of the most entertaining players to have ever played in the Premier League. Mentioned alongside Mario Balotelli as being an incredibly skilled footballer without trying, Adebayor has plied his trade at Arsenal, Man City, Spurs and Palace. There was also time for a, largely forgotten loan spell with Real Madrid in 2011 when he scored five goals in his 14 runouts.
Adebayor’s most iconic moment must have come during his time with Manchester City. Having moved from top-four rivals, Arsenal amidst a massive falling out with the club and its fans, Ade wasn’t well respected by his former side. So when he bagged himself a goal against he was obviously ecstatic…but nobody could’ve predicted what was coming next. He sprinted the full length of the field before embarking on the longest knee slide since Sol Campbell’s never-ending tackle. He was met with a barrage of abuse and missiles and the punishment was a fine and a two-match ban, but he didn’t care. He had won.
The striker fell out of favour at Arsenal, even more, when he moved to arch-nemeses, Spurs. He was also not welcomed too kindly at his new home and Tottenham fans booed him upon arrival and again when he suffered a drought. Tim Sherwood got the most out of each him as the pair formed an unlikely bromance. This spawned another memorable celebration, the cringe-worthy salute the couple offered.
Sadly, his motivation and dedication to training saw him fall out with every club he went to and he slowly faded into insignificance during his time with Palace. In January 2017 a deal was done with Turkish side, Istanbul Basaksehir and his time in the PL was done, but boy weren’t we glad he came?