I’m Not Just Big, I’m a Good Footballer- Says the Strongest Player in The World, Adebayo AkinfenwaLatest News, News, Sports Tuesday, August 5th, 2014
Adebayo Akinfenwa has spent his entire career in the lower leagues of English football but has still achieved global fame thanks to a computer game.
According to the makers of the top-selling football franchise, Fifa, Akinfenwa is the strongest player in the world, a title he is proud to accept.
The 32-year-old forward has never been considered a natural footballer and numerous rugby clubs and American universities looking for gridiron converts have asked him to switch sports because of his size and power.
Standing at just 5ft 11in, Akinfenwa weighs more than 16 stone.
He can bench-press 180kg and looks like a bodybuilder who could easily have worked as a nightclub doorman, masquerading as a footballer.
“It doesn’t annoy me any more, I think I’ve come to terms with the fact I’m not the typical footballer,” said Akinfenwa, who signed for AFC Wimbledon from Gillingham this summer, and gave the Chelsea defence a torrid afternoon in a pre-season friendly.
“It used to get to me when all anyone talked about was my size, but I quite like the fact I stand out.
“I get more of a warm embrace now since I became the strongest footballer.
“I didn’t realise how big Fifa was until last year. I’d always been one of the strongest players in the game, but officially in Fifa 14 I was the strongest in the world.
“If they say so, I must be. I like that.
“I’ve played as myself a few times and I’m very slow. I’ve asked Fifa to make me a little bit quicker, but you can’t have everything. I’ve always been big, my brothers are my size, we come from good stock.”
Akinfenwa has been tempted by American football in the past, but he enjoys football too much.
“People have tried to push me into other sports, but it’s always been football,” he said.
“People have asked me to go for training sessions at rugby clubs and a few American universities have asked me to try American football as well. It’s flattering, but I’ve never wanted to risk it.
“I like being the biggest on the pitch, I don’t want to look at the other guys and think his arms are bigger than mine.”
For all he might not look like your typical footballer, Akinfenwa has had a long and successful career.
AFC Wimbledon are the 11th club to employ him and he has scored goals regularly in League One and League Two.
He had to fight negative perceptions at the start of his career, but urged youngsters who do not conform to the stereotypical shape of a footballer not to give up.
“It takes a lot of hard work and dedication,” he explained. “All professional footballers are is amateurs who didn’t quit and that’s what I say to young kids built like me.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t make it because of your shape and size. If you work on your technique and fitness, you can make it.
“If I’d listened to what people said to me when I was young I wouldn’t be a footballer.
“I’ve had managers in the past who tried to suggest I stop weight training, but that’s something I enjoy doing.”
The sight of Akinfenwa running out of the tunnel must be a daunting one for opposition defenders, particularly in the lower leagues where the physical battle is sometimes just as important as the tactical one.
“I know most of the defenders now because I’ve played against them before, but the younger ones do tend to want to go shoulder to shoulder,” Akinfenwa added.
“They will come off second best, but I’m happy if they try. I’m 32 now, there isn’t much I haven’t seen. Defenders know it’s going to be a work out.
“There’s more to me than just a big guy up front. I wouldn’t have the career I’ve had if I couldn’t play.
“You have to have more about you than just your physical attributes.
“People know there is more to me than just muscle. I’ve scored plenty of goals and I’m very proud of being able to assist others.
“The move to AFC Wimbledon has been a good one.
“It’s getting harder for me at my age, pre-season is really tough because of my bulk, but I watch what I eat and look after myself in the gym as well. It’s not only weights.”
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