LONDON (Reuters) - Tottenham Hotspur striker Emmanuel Adebayor was restored to the starting lineup as captain against Sheffield United in their League Cup semi-final on Wednesday but left the pitch to a chorus of boos from the home fans.
The controversial Togo forward lasted 65 minutes of his side’s unconvincing 1-0 first leg win at White Hart Lane before being replaced by Spaniard Roberto Soldado, another of the club’s international pedigree forwards struggling for form.
The change at least brought the winning goal, with Soldado controlling the ball in the area before United defender Jay McEveley inadvertently handled to concede a penalty that was tucked away expertly by Andros Townsend after 74 minutes.
Asked about the booing when Adebayor was substituted Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino told reporters: “I didn’t hear the crowd’s reaction. For me I am focused on the game. I‘m happy with his performance. He was good.”
Adebayor has hardly featured this season and Saturday’s substitute appearance in the 2-1 Premier League home win over Sunderland was his first in nine weeks because of injury, illness and compassionate leave to sort out family problems.
The 30-year-old former Metz, AS Monaco, Arsenal, Manchester City and Real Madrid striker is an enigma.
On his day the tall, gangly Adebayor can be a deadly finisher who brings fear to defences with his all-action game. At other times he drifts through matches, making little impact and looking as if he would rather be somewhere else.
Controversy has followed Adebayor throughout his career.
He had a bust-up with fellow Arsenal striker Niklas Bendtner during a League Cup tie at Spurs in 2008, and who could forget his goal celebration for Manchester City the following year in front of the baying Arsenal fans who pelted him with objects.
The striker’s time at Spurs has also been fraught with problems and he was frozen out by the club’s former manager Andre Villas-Boas reportedly because he refused to remove a beanie hat he was wearing during a team meeting.
His brief appearance against Sunderland was his first since a home defeat by Stoke City in early November, after which he upset the Spurs supporters by saying the team would rather play away due to the pressure being put on them at White Hart Lane.
There was some confusion on Wednesday as to why a player who has not featured for so long was handed the captain’s armband against United but Tottenham have three captains -- goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, central defender Younes Kaboul and Adebayor.
France international Lloris is the usual skipper but he was rested on Wednesday and with Kaboul on the bench it was left to Adebayor to lead the team out on to the pitch to the dismay of the disgruntled home supporters who later booed him off.
Reporting by Ken Ferris; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty