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 Post subject: Beast Mode...On
PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 11:26 am 
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For a heavy guy, Adebayo Akinfenwa's personality is as light as a feather.

The 16-stone Northampton Town striker, 396lb bench presser, creator of "Beast Mode" and "fat Eddie Murphy" could carry the weight of the world on his broad shoulders and still be as cool as a cucumber. Albeit a massive one.

After coming through a torrent of racist abuse as an 18-year-old playing in Lithuania and soaking up constant jibes for his ample frame, the 31-year-old will not be losing any sleep over Saturday's League Two play-off final against Bradford at Wembley.

In fact, he will most likely be drawing on his self-constructed ethos - titled Beast Mode On - to inspire his effort of promoting the Cobblers to League One.

"Beast Mode On is a state of mind. People will always focus on my size and think 'he's a beast', that's what Beast Mode is," the bulking frontman, squeezing into a fold-down stadium chair at Northampton's Sixfields ground, told BBC Sport.

"But Beast Mode has been since the day I was born. It's about applying yourself and defying the limitations people put on you.

"People said I'm too big to play football. One hundred goals later, I'm not. There are no limitations to what you want to do."

One hundred and twenty seven goals from 373 games across nine different Football League clubs, to be precise.

That career was set upon from five years of age, with a determination to emulate his hero John Barnes.

Born to Nigerian parents in London - a Muslim father and Christian mother - Akinfenwa's outlook, his relaxed demeanour and nonchalant disposition, are imbued with the faith he attached himself to as a child.

"When Ramadan was on dad made us fast and then I had to read the Bible every day and go to church," he said.

"My faith came from my mum, I swayed towards the Bible - mum drummed it into us every day.

"I'm not a saint. I go through troubling times. But my faith does get me through.

"People say I'm relaxed - I'm blessed in what I do. I can make thousands of people happy with what I do.

Despite forging a career around the lower reaches of the Football League, the seeds of Akinfenwa's professional journey were planted in the Lithuanian port town of Klaipeda.

After trials with clubs at home, including nine months at Watford, and being told "he's got the ability but maybe he's a bit big", the beast moved east in search of a team and was stunned by what would greet him at FK Atlantas.

Akinfenwa recalls the chant his own supporters would sing at him in his first game, littered with foul, offensive and racial language. It almost persuaded him to zip up his suitcase and head back to England.

"We're going back 13 years. Coming from London, where nobody would disrespect me, this was just brazen," he said.

"I was by myself, aged 18. I was the first black person in the league and one of the few black people in the town I was in.

"I didn't expect it at all. To the level it was on my first game, I just could not believe it. I got on the phone to my brother and said 'bruv, these guys they're racist, I'm coming home'.

"He said, 'I'd never tell you to stay somewhere you don't want to be. But you can leave and let them win or you can stay and prove them wrong'.

"I slept on it and I was like 'there ain't nobody going to run me out of nowhere'.

"We got to the cup final, I scored the only goal and it changed. I got abuse from away fans but my own fans took to me. I came back thinking 'if I can handle that there is nothing in the football world I can't handle'."

Quote:
Bayo's career
•FK Atlantas (2001-03)
•Barry Town (2003)
•Boston United (2003)
•Leyton Orient (2003)
•Rushden & Diamonds (2003-04)
•Doncaster Rovers (2004)
•Torquay United (2004-05)
•Swansea City (2005-07)
•Millwall (2007-08)
•Northampton (2008-10)
•Gillingham (2010-2011)
•Northampton (2011-present)


These days the former Swansea and Gillingham man is more accustomed to flak for his size, rather than the colour of his skin, and, to a certain point, welcomes the attention.

"I laugh at that. That does not faze me whatsoever," he said.

"It would affect me if I wasn't hitting the goals I was setting for myself. I feel my goalscoring record sits very nicely.

"If fans want to heckle me, that's cool. Once I'm off that pitch and you try to disrespect me to my face it's a different story.

"My favourite chant is 'you're just a fat Eddie Murphy'. When I heard that I could not stop laughing. I would prefer a muscular Eddie Murphy.

"But when they give me stick I take it in, wrap it up and give it back."

By his own admission, Akinfenwa "was always a big guy", and his size is supplemented by his thirst for the gym.

Egged on by his brother, Akinfenwa once bench pressed 180kg in the presence of a journalist and his power was recognised when a popular football video game made him the strongest player within their virtual world.

"Every once in a while I have to catch myself and remember I am a footballer. Football's about running around - some people will say I don't run around, but I'll argue that point," he said.

"The manager reins me in because he knows I like to push some weights. I know what my body needs to get through a season."

Akinfenwa, who hopes to mentor children when he retires, has never been at any one club for more than 30 months, apart from Northampton where across two spells he has accrued four and a half years of service.

In his first full season at Sixfields, the 2008-09 campaign, he suffered relegation to League Two and, with his contract expiring this summer, a return to the third tier could possibly be his last contribution to Aidy Boothroyd's side.

"This is like my home away from home. I can't speak enough about how the fans have taken me to their heart," he said.

"On Saturday we can't get too emotional, as hard as it is. If we can do that I truly believe we can win. It would be beautiful and a fitting tribute to right a relegation with a promotion."


I've seen this guy play a lot at Northampton and once you look past the shear size of the man you see there is actually quite a talented footballer there.

He get a raw deal off refs because defenders trying to battle for headers with him just bounce off him.

I remember seeing him basically run over a defender when the ball somehow got wedged between there chests he just steam rollered the guy.


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 Post subject: Re: Beast Mode...On
PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 2:53 pm 
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JSP wrote:
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...396lb bench presser...

F**k me! :ohmy:

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 Post subject: Re: Beast Mode...On
PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 3:23 pm 
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Man is an absolute tank

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 Post subject: Re: Beast Mode...On
PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 3:31 pm 
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Bought him on Fifa when I was in League 2..he's got somethinglike 98 on strength.

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 Post subject: Re: Beast Mode...On
PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 7:36 pm 
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borocooper wrote:
Bought him on Fifa when I was in League 2..he's got somethinglike 98 on strength.


For a monster, he's deceptively light on his feet. I've seen him play and yes, defenders do bounce off him. He is a unit in the true sense of the word. My lads are off to Wembley tomorrow watch the game. He is key to the Cobblers' success.

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 Post subject: Re: Beast Mode...On
PostPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 8:17 pm 
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His finishing is very good as well you'd think he just smashes it in but he's actually pretty good at just stroking it into the corner.

Would be great for cobblers to go up tomorrow.

Coventry, Peterborough, Dons & Northampton all in the same league means some decent local rivalry matches for cobblers


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 Post subject: Re: Beast Mode...On
PostPosted: Sat May 18, 2013 1:19 pm 
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Dropped to the bench for the final

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 Post subject: Re: Beast Mode...On
PostPosted: Sat May 18, 2013 1:50 pm 
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Bradford 2 up inside 20 mins.

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Because I'm young enough to be all pi**ed off
But I'm old enough to be jaded
I'm at the age where I want things to change
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 Post subject: Re: Beast Mode...On
PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 11:24 am 
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Beast Mode...Gone

Been released by Northampton :(


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 Post subject: Re: Beast Mode...On
PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 11:31 am 
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I would imagine that someone in League 2 or the Conference would pick him up on a free.

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But James and Pak both said they were voting JSP


:doh:

You know what Paks like. He's probably voted JSP for woman of the year or something.


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 Post subject: Re: Beast Mode...On
PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 11:53 am 
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He was one of the top scores in the league this season so he should easily find himself a new club in league two although it will probably depend on what sort of contract they're offering as most clubs will only offer him 1 year deals due to his injury.


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 Post subject: Re: Beast Mode...On
PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 11:58 am 
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It'll probably only be a year, yeah. Given injury problems and his age he's not gonna get a long term deal. He can always become a weightlifter or something.

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idontfeardeath wrote:
Spawny wrote:
But James and Pak both said they were voting JSP


:doh:

You know what Paks like. He's probably voted JSP for woman of the year or something.


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 Post subject: Re: Beast Mode...On
PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 8:07 pm 
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He could rent himself out as a roundabout...take you feckin' ages to go around him. :|

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 Post subject: Re: Beast Mode...On
PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2016 6:45 pm 
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If you had expected Adebayo Akinfenwa to be talked out by now, you probably needed to improve your research. A Football League launch at Craven Cottage is winding down, a good three hours in, and the Wycombe Wanderers striker has commanded more attention than any of the players and coaches from higher divisions who have passed through. There have been endless television appearances, photographs with supporters and, latterly, an impromptu Facebook Live event with the relatively reserved Brighton goalkeeper David Stockdale that swiftly sees first acquaintances playing off each other like old friends.

That is the effect Akinfenwa has. These are the twilight years of a peripatetic career that has run alongside an off-pitch brand through his exceptional – maligned and admired in turn – upper-body strength and size, and the instinct is to enjoy every moment. It is not hard to see why Gareth Ainsworth, the Wycombe manager, enlisted the 34-year-old to bolster a shot-shy team for the new League Two campaign; Akinfenwa’s charisma certainly lights up a room and he intends to use the audiences he is afforded for good.

“The attention is humbling, mindboggling really,” Akinfenwa says. “I’ve played in the lower leagues for most of my career, but everyone here wants to talk to a League Two player. At the same time, I embrace it. It may sound cliched, but it just shows that when you don’t let people put you in a box then anything can happen.”

There is still the sense that mouth occasionally acts before brain, but in a way that reassures. This summer one member of the media felt the sharp side of Akinfenwa’s tongue after suggesting the image he projected – he has made the nickname “Beast” his own – was merely a persona, a gimmick. Akinfenwa asserts that he has simply been given a chance to be himself and as the words pour out it would take some very confident judgment to accuse him of affectation.

“This isn’t a reward for anything, I didn’t set out to be this way, I’m honestly just me,” he says. “People said: ‘You’re too big to play football’, but I kept playing and it just happened that people have caught on to me and taken to me. The nicest thing I get from it is that I can be myself and people seem to like it.

“When you’re in that position I think you’re obligated to try and help the next generation. The areas where I went wrong, things like that, I’ll talk to them about it. I’ve seen where you can go left or right; I was raised in an inner-city school and some of my classmates went to prison or down other bad roads. Football was my saving grace so I want to let people know that you can achieve whatever you want. People like to concentrate on what you can’t do, so let’s preach what you can. Why would I want to talk about not being quick when I’m strong? That’s what I want to get across.”

Fame has had its perks. Akinfenwa has more than a million followers across his social media platforms, his “Beast Mode On” clothing line has led to commercial opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic and it is a rare day when he is not recognised in the street. His five children – “Yes, five,” he emphasises, unprompted – keep him grounded. “I come home and I’m like: ‘I got stopped in LA and Vegas’, and they just go: ‘Daddy, stop making noise.’ I’m just the embarrassing dad to them.”

The more serious business begins now and there was quite a choice for Akinfenwa when, straight after helping AFC Wimbledon to promotion in the play-off final at Wembley, he found himself a free agent. “I think I’m technically unemployed, so any managers, hit me up on WhatsApp,” were his words broadcast live by the side of the pitch, and they did, offers coming in from Qatar, Australia, Mexico, Turkey and the US.

Ainsworth’s entreaty came by the comparatively old-fashioned medium of a text and it struck a chord with Akinfenwa. The two knew each other as playing opponents of old and Ainsworth says they “had that feeling of respect for each other, the look you can give someone that says: ‘You know what, I know what you’re about.’”

Wycombe fell away from the play-off race at the end of 2015-16, a goal tally of 45 their major deficiency, and his presence on and off the pitch would have obvious benefits. “A year ago I’d have been more geared for a move to MLS, but this year going abroad wasn’t high up on my priorities,” he says. “When I sat down with the gaffer, everything he said resonated. It’s just a nice fit and it’s very similar to AFC Wimbledon – tight-knit, everyone in it for each other, putting in the work with nothing just given to you. After the first conversation I knew it was where I wanted to be.”

The final kick of Akinfenwa’s two years at Wimbledon was the penalty that confirmed their ascent, one that caused a degree of awkwardness after he took the ball from the designated taker, Callum Kennedy. Here is where the showman comes out; he has no qualms admitting he was working to a script.

“I’d known I was leaving and the night before you play it out in your head and think: ‘What’s the best scenario to depart with?’” he says. “It played out exactly as I’d dreamed. It was an emotional, euphoric moment, but I’d already come to terms that it was my last game. Getting promoted with the team, scoring at Wembley aged 34, it’s just dreams – if I didn’t still have the desire to play football, I could have left the game off the back of that.”

Wycombe will need that desire. Ainsworth is unlikely to fill his substitutes’ bench at Crawley on Saturday and, at 43, the ex-QPR winger has signed on as backup for another season. A club with no academy or reserve team – although there are plans to resurrect both – has a squad of 19 and, through Fifa’s wisdom, there is no emergency loan system this season to help plug gaps. It seems like the kind of challenge Akinfenwa relishes; neither player nor manager is the type to go quietly. “It’s been intense so far, I’m not going to lie, and that’s what the gaffer is,” Akinfenwa says. “Nothing gets left on the training field or the pitch. I’m mad excited about this new challenge and we’ll see what the season brings.”


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