Rather than indulging in the capital’s bright lights and nightlife, Emmanuel Clottey opts for the more personal comfort of his sofa in front of the television.
Given his reserved nature, it seems only natural that Al Dhafra’s Ghanaian forward prefers the confines of his serviced apartment on Muroor Road in Abu Dhabi to the daily hubbub of the capital, when he is not playing or training. Throughout a recent interview, he was curled up under a blanket on the sofa half-watching boxing on the television.
“This is how I spend most of my free time,” he says while clearing up the empty plates and tidying up the coffee table in front of the sofa.
“I like to be at home when I am not training. Even back home in Ghana, I prefer to stay at home. I like to relax a lot and sleep a lot. If not, I will spend time with my laptop listening to the native Ghana music or be on the PlayStation.”
In a different apartment in the same building lives the Senegelese striker Makhete Diop, his Dhafra teammate.
“We are good friends but we don’t meet in the apartment very often. He has been here longer than me and taken me around the city a few times,” he said.
Clottey, 26, is in his fourth month in Abu Dhabi but does not drive and has no desire to get a driving licence. He is picked up and dropped off at his apartment by a driver working for the club.
“For a person who doesn’t like to travel much, a driving licence is not a priority. I am comfortable with this arrangement,” he said.
“I am quite happy doing my own things and at my own pace. I do some cooking because I love my native food. It is rice but we use different sauces.”
Clottey is married to Rose and has a daughter Renata, 2, and son Recosta, 1. He chats with them on Skype as his wife looks after the family business back home and is unable to join him in the UAE.
“She owns a store and it would be hard for her to leave it behind and join me in Abu Dhabi,” he said.
“They will visit me every now and then. Of course, I miss them but life must go on with my job, as well.”
However, one place of solace and relaxation for the African are the beaches of Abu Dhabi, which he described as “clean, beautiful and quiet”.
Clottey is on a one-year loan deal from the Tunisian club Esperance but said he wants to make the move to the UAE permanent.
“The level of the competition here is very high and it’s a very nice place to live,” he said. “Obviously, I need to prove my worth for the club to decide on an extension to me.”
He showed what he was capable of when he came on as a second-half substitute against Al Ain in an Arabian Gulf League match two weeks ago and scored a second-half hat-trick to guide his side to an impressive 4-3 victory over the champions.
“It was not the first time I have scored a hat-trick but to come from the bench and to score against a team like Al Ain was a fantastic feeling,” he said.
Clottey began his youth career at the Brazil Soccer Academy in his homeland.
“I used to play football during my free time like all other kids in the neighbourhood,” he said.
“I was playing for a local team against the Brazil Soccer Academy. After the match, I was asked if I was interested to join them and I promptly did.
“I was 11 at that time but played for the Under 14 and when I was 14 I was promoted to the Under 17 team.”
He won promotion to the second division with Mighty Victory Club when he was only 16 and a year later joined Accra Great Olympics, signing his first professional contract in 2004.
In 2007, he was loaned to Wacker Innsbruck in Austria for a season and the following year brought another loan spell, at Odense Boldklub in Denmark.
He returned to Accra Great Olympics for a season and after spells at Tema Youth and Berekum Chelsea, he moved to Esperance Tunis on a three-season deal last year.
Clottey has made nine appearances for Ghana’s national team and he is hopeful of winning a recall while playing in the UAE alongside Asamoah Gyan, the Ghana captain, who plays for Al Ain.
“I know [Gyan] as a senior player and a friend,” he said. “But for a recall to the national team, I have to work hard and establish myself wherever I play. I feel the AGL provides me that opportunity.”
Clottey said he tries to model his game on Samuel Eto’o, the Cameroon striker who plays in the English Premier League for Chelsea.
“He has been my role model and I have had the opportunity to meet him through a teammate,” Clottey said.
“I like him because he keeps everything so simple. No fancy stuff but he can get the ball into the back of the net.”