Adebayo Akinfenwa, born in 1982 in Islington, England is one of the most recognisable football players in the world, however, unlike other football superstars, Adebayo Akinfenwa is not known for his incredible skill, nor his achievements in the world of football, but rather his physique, which got him a name “The Beast”.
A suitable name for a football player who is 1.85m in height and over 100kg in weight. While his strength is the most recognisable feature of this English player, there is much more to Adebayo Akinfenwa, who had a life filled with ups and downs, which ultimately made him the person and the player he is today.
Adebayo Akinfenwa’s Early Life
Born on May 10th, 1982 in a small town of Islington, Adebayo Akinfenwa has always been known for his strong physique which got him the name “The Beast” at his young age. Despite having a body more fitted for an NFL player, Adebayo Akinfenwa fell in love with football, a sport that has been a huge part of his life.
Adebayo Akinfenwa and Steven Gerard
As a young boy, Adebayo Akinfenwa was a supporter of Liverpool and an even bigger fan of Steven Gerrard. In an interview, he stated: “Back then, I wanted Steven Gerard’s shirt. I once told my friends that if anyone gets his shirt before me, we are going to have a problem”. It’s still unknown if he received Gerrard shirt as a teenager or not, however, in the end, it does not matter, as Adebayo Akinfenwa got his hands on the prized possession in 2015 following an FA Cup tie between Liverpool and Wimbledon.
Adebayo Akinfenwa Football Career
While a huge fan of Liverpool, Adebayo Akinfenwa never got a chance to play for the Reds. His football career started in Watford, where he joined the U18 team. Following his stay at Watford, he was spotted by Atlantas, a Lithuanian club, who saw the potential in the incredibly strong player and decided to approach him. As it was reported Adebayo Akinfenwa decided to join Atlantas on the advice from his agent, who was a relative of the club owner. Was this move beneficial for Adebayo Akinfenwa as a player is up to debate, however, we can be certain Adebayo Akinfenwa did not enjoy his stay in Lithuania. As stated by him, he endured heavy racial abuse from his own fans. In his words:
“I left London, a metropolitan city where I didn’t really have to deal with racism at 18, to go to a place where I was one of…a black person,”
“I was the first black person in the league, so, first pre-season game, 1,000 people were chanting racial abuse.”
Enduring heavy racial abuse, as the only black person in the league, Adebayo Akinfenwa surprisingly stated that he would not change anything about his stay in Lithuania. In his words, it was a mental learning curve, which made him a better player, more driven to prove everyone wrong, which lead to him scoring a game-winning goal that brought his club a title equivalent to the FA Cup.
He concluded the story about his stay at Altantas with:
“It made me tough. It defined me as a man.”
After a life-changing year in Atlantas, Adebayo Akinfenwa moved to Barry Town, where he helped the team win the Welsh Cup and Welsh Premier League silverware. Following his successful campaign at Barry Town, Akinfenwa switched 6 clubs, ending up in Swansea, where yet another life test awaited him. During his stay at the Swans, Akinfenwa suffered a horrible leg injury, which ultimately shaped the course of his career. That, however, was not necessarily a bad change. Following his leg injury, Akinfenwa had to learn to be a different style of striker. No longer will he be able to rely on his speed to pass defenders, but instead became a striker who relies on raw strength to prevent defenders from taking the ball off him. Akinfenwa unlike other strikers whose career went downhill once they lost the needed speed, became arguably even better. As a player who was already strong, Akinfenwa started lifting weights regulary, taking full advantage of his strong build, thus becoming a force to be reckoned with on the field.
“Before the injury, I’d never really been into doing weights.” said Akinfenwa. “I’ve always been a big guy, so it wasn’t like I just picked up myself and thought, can I be the biggest I can be? It was just, can I be the best I can be. I started it at Swansea and from there it’s just taken on a life on its own.”
After his return on the field, Akinfenwa went on to play for 4 more clubs, until 2016, when he joined Wycombe, which is his home ever since. As a player who had his ups and downs, had to adjust to all the obstacles life threw at him, Akinfenwa’s story is truly an inspiring one. While we have mentioned Akinfenwa is not known for being one of the best footballers, we must give him some credit, as he a key striker for Wycombe, who offered him a contract extension, which will keep him tied with them until 2020.
How many goals has Akinfenwa scored in his career?
He scored 214 goals so far on 673 matches, while for Wycombe Wanderers in 129 matches he scored 42 goals.