Adebayo Akinfenwa warns his teammates to leave Gerrard’s shirt to him and declares Skrtel is “the one I want” when facing his boyhood team, Liverpool, in tonight’s FA Cup tie.
Akinfenwa, who enjoys cult status among football fans as the strongest player in EA SPORTS FIFA 15, is determined to gain his slice of memorabilia from the occasion
“I have supported Liverpool since I was a pup, so playing against them is a boyhood dream accomplished. During the game it is business but I’ve warned my teammates that afterwards I will be shirt swapping with Gerrard, as I am a massive fan. I love my teammates but if any of them try and take Gerrard’s shirt there’s going to be a problem – I’m going to hit them, or put them in a bear hug and a headlock!”
The Beast is “relishing” tacking on Liverpool’s backline, particularly Martin Skrtel as only one person on earth scares him – his mum.
“I am 32 and I can bench press 180kg, but I’m a mummy’s boy, bar my mum I’m not intimidated by anyone – if she tells me to sit down and don’t get up I’m going to do it! Skrtel is perceived as the warrior, the aggressor and the leader – I saw he recently (against Arsenal) got cut up, had stitches in his head then scored the equaliser. He’s the one I want to face – I’m looking forward to going toe to toe with him on a 50-50 shoulder barge – I back myself.”
Akinfenwa is happy to face Skrtel, Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho in a back three system Brendan Rodgers sometimes uses, a battle that would surely supersede his previous best tussles, against Guy Branston and Wes Morgan.
“Sakho looks like a warrior just in his face, Skrtel is the one I want and Toure looks strong – I want Liverpool to play all three as I’d love to take them all on – I’m sure I could keep them all entertained! We’re not deluding ourselves as we’ve got to be at our very best, they’ve got to be below par and we need luck, but this the FA Cup, so we will go in with belief and confidence.”
The AFC Wimbledon striker has confidence aplenty from a successful and unorthodox career, culminating in his current fame, and wouldn’t change it for Premier League football.
“No I wouldn’t swap it, I have enjoyed my career and where it’s taken me, I like being different, I honestly do. People always try and put you in boxes – everyone told me I was too big to play football and I’ve loved proving them wrong. I wasn’t meant for the Prem, I can say to my kids ‘daddy never got to the promised land of the Premier League but he had a great career’.”
The philosophy of defying expectations is central to Akinfenwa’s Beast Mode On project, an ideal post-career endeavour.
“BMO came from the motto of ‘defy the limitations people put on you’ – YouTuber KSI did a video of me as a beast player and things developed from them. There’s now a BMO foundation and a soccer Academy launching this year, including a mentoring scheme focusing on the mental side of things not just the football. Our motto, and something I truly believe, is that if you believe that you can achieve – apply yourself and don’t let people tell you what can and can’t do.”
This focus on the mental aspect of football has left Akinfenwa feeling at his peak, and he has no thoughts of retiring anytime soon, despite being 32.
“I feel at my peak now, mentally yes and physically not far off at all, but particularly the mental side of things is very strong now. As long as I am contributing to games and I feel fit and strong I will play– I am playing near enough every game so my body is in decent condition.”
This is an understatement to say the least, as the striker remains a valuable asset, scoring nine goals this season as AFC Wimbledon chase promotion from League Two.
“The aim is the play-offs this season and we have beaten many of the sides up there, we now need to show the consistency of doing against teams around us. However, I am confident that we will be there or thereabouts by the end the season.”
Knowing Akinfenwa and his career, it would be foolish to rule anything out, as the Beast relishes defying limitations, with Liverpool presenting a great chance to do just that. As the Beast is unleashed, the only fear will be from Skrtel and co – only Akinfenwa’s mum can scare him.
Adebayo Akinfenwa is the strongest player in EA SPORTS FIFA 15. Build, manage and play as your own team of stars in FIFA Ultimate Team today! Start your Ultimate Team today at easports.com/UK/fifa/ultimate-team