Adebayo Akinfenwa: ‘I was told I was too big for football and I’ve played for 22 years’

Wycombe striker prepares for his final game proud to have been unapologetically himself – and more popular than Messi“I think I’m technically unemployed, so any managers, hit me up on WhatsApp,” were Adebayo Akinfenwa’s words in a live television pitch-side interview after scoring at Wembley to clinch promotion to League One with AFC Wimbledon six years ago – a come-and-get me-plea if there ever was one – and so it seems fitting that one of the game’s household names will return there for one last kick, one last dance, to bring down the curtain on 22 years as a professional. He ended up fielding offers from from Argentina to Australia but signed for Wycombe Wanderers, where an initial one-year deal has turned into a six-year stay and the best days of his career. “I remember looking in my DMs, there were CEOs and I thought: ‘I should have done this years ago!’” Akinfenwa says. “It was mad.”Akinfenwa is hoping to write one final chapter when Wycombe take on Sunderland in Saturday’s League One playoff final in front of about 70,000 spectators. He grew up on the Mayville Estate in north London, playing on Hackney Marshes and off Market Road, and earned his first contract in Lithuania before signing for Barry Town in search of a leg-up into the Football League. Stints at Boston, Leyton Orient and Rushden & Diamonds followed before a breakthrough at Doncaster. Akinfenwa, who turned 40 this month, will bow out in style after almost 800 appearances and more than 200 goals.