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Adebayo Akinfenwa - Still scoring goals at 35

Tuesday 15th August 2017
Although Neymar and Romelu Lukaku were among expensive summer signings scoring on league debuts for their respective clubs, Adebayo Akinfenwa proved that he can still produce the goods in front of goal at a lower level of football by netting twice at the weekend.

London born Akinfenwa would probably be the first person to admit that he does not possess an athletic frame and would be unable to cope with a fit Usain Bolt in a sprint race, but since launching his football career at Lithuanian club FK Atlantas in 2001, he has always found employment as a much-travelled striker within the lower leagues

Akinfenwa moved back to the United Kingdom in 2003 after suffering much racial abuse in Eastern Europe, and soon signed for Welsh team Barry Town. Yet it was playing for Torquay during the 2004-05 campaign, that his ability to score goals first became recognised. Netting 14 league goals in 37 League One appearances, he then became a regular goalscorer in subsequent seasons with just one real failure during a short spell at Millwall.

Nicknamed ‘The Beast', Adebayo Akinfenwa has been a success at Leagues One and Two level with Northampton, Gillingham and AFC Wimbledon in recent seasons and he is now plying his trade at Wycombe Wanderers where he claimed 12 goals in 42 League Two appearances last term. Manager Gareth Ainsworth must have thought he had made a mistake when first signing the striker after he was dismissed on his debut for the club in a pre-season friendly against French team Le Havre. However, such was the productivity of Akinfenwa during that first season at Wycombe that Ainsworth then persuaded his 16-stone forward to sign a new contract until the summer of 2018.
Now aged 35, Akinfenwa scooped the Supporters Player of the Year and Players Player of the Year last season in recognition of his efforts as his team finished in ninth position, just one point adrift of the playoffs. He also played for 68 minutes against Tottenham at White Lane in an FA Cup fourth round tie last term, leaving the field with the scoreline level at 2-2. The hosts eventually secured a 4-3 victory courtesy of two late goals scored by Dele Alli and Son Heung-Min, while Akinfenwa also netted an equaliser when playing in an FA Cup match for AFC Wimbledon against Liverpool during January 2015.

For the current season, Akinfenwa has appeared in all three matches for Wycombe and netted two second half goals in their latest 3-2 victory at Port Vale. Furthermore, it would be no surprise if there was a repeat of last season's performance for The Beast as he is rarely injured, having appeared in at least 30 league matches during each of the last nine campaigns despite his advancing years.

Playing against Akinfenwa must be a defender's nightmare, yet during those nine previous seasons, he has earned more than five bookings in league action on just two occasions with only one dismissal incurred. Akinfenwa has also previously stated that people have described him as ‘too big to play football', but there has been a stubborn determination to prove any doubters wrong for many years.

Retirement will eventually happen some day for Adebayo Akinfenwa but until then, expect more of the same in terms of goals and his considerable weight presence in attack.
John Welsh
I am a freelance sports writer specialising in football covering Premier League, EFL and English non-leagues plus top leagues in France, Germany and Italy. I have written for Inside Futbol, Football Weekends plus football previews for Hong Kong Jockey Club, and I’m also the author of book First Touch, a novel covering the exploitation of young African footballers and their experiences in Europe.

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