Beast mode on full power, Adebayo Akinfenwa has some heartfelt advice for Tottenham’s defence.
“Don’t get into a fight with me – and that’s not being arrogant,” said the 16st Wycombe Wanderers human wrecking ball. “If you try and fight me, I win.”
Biceps like Popeye after a tin of spinach, forearms like joints of beef and chest broader than a barrel of laughs, Akinfenwa is rated the world’s strongest player by the FIFA computer game.
And as the club known as the Chairboys head for White Hart Lane in the FA Cup fourth round today, the ‘Beast’ is happy to turn it into a game of thrones – with him as king of the power rangers.
Akinfenwa has a track record of getting what he wants because nobody is daft enough to argue with him.
When AFC Wimbledon played Liverpool in the Cup two years ago, he ‘reserved’ Steven Gerrard’s shirt as if he was booking a table. “I told the boys that if anyone gets his shirt before me, then we are going to have a problem.”
Spurs had better beware of Bayo – because Wycombe are unbeaten in 16 games and their 10-goal battering-ram striker is on a roll.
“I kid you not, the Beast within fears nobody. If Tottenham play their best and we play our best, Spurs should win because they have the extra quality, and I can live with that.
“But as a professional, you shouldn’t be scared of anybody. They are men, we are men and nobody scares me because none of them will be stronger than me… they will probably just be better than me at everything else!
“People chat about my size, and there’s no sugar-coating it – I’m a big boy.
“But size is just a perception. We’ve grown up with a perception that players should be built like this and as tall as that, but I didn’t set out to be the strongest guy in football.
“You have to be something more than a size to make it in football, and I must be doing something right because I’ve been doing this for 14 years now. I’ve got to be something other than just big.”
Father-of-five Akinfenwa may have the acceleration of a milk float, but he has a decent touch for a big unit and his aerial power is enough to shoot down drones hovering at less than 1,000ft.
With 169 goals in senior football, he’s no slouch in the box – and with his own clothing range Beast Mode On (with sizes up to XXXXXL) doing well, he is already on the road to prosperity beyond football.
He is also setting up a Beast Mode academy in south London, an inner-city mentoring programme to help young kids achieve their dreams where they could easily fall into the temptations of urban loitering.
Akinfenwa said: “We will teach about stereotypes because you will get rejected and have setbacks, but we want to give youngsters the self-belief to persevere. I’m very passionate about the academy because I don’t think I’m cut out to be a manager.
“People have been asking me more and more if I’m going to move into that side of the game, but I turn up late as a player, so I can’t be doing that as a manager.
“But I signed a one-year contract at Wycombe with the option of another 12 months on top, and that second year is about to kick in, so watch out – I’m around for another year, people!
“I ain’t no spring chicken, I’ll be 35 at the end of the season and I’m determined to enjoy it while it lasts – and I’ve never been to the fourth round of the FA Cup before, so this move has turned into everything I could have wanted.
“I’m fit, I’m strong, I’m enjoying life, I’m teaching the young boys we’ve got here and they are teaching the old dog some new tricks.”
So what does the Beast have for breakfast before he sets out to maul Tottenham?
Disappointingly, it used to be just a croissant and an orange juice, but now Akinfenwa has upgraded to protein shakes and a banana.
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“People who don’t know me probably assume it would be a couple of raw steaks, but I’m happy to jump on the bandwagon and let them run with it – if not raw meat, maybe a whole chicken!”
Tottenham, back from a four-day warm weather training camp in Barcelona, should also look out for Akinfenwa’s strike partner Scott Kashket.
“I don’t want to let people know, but I’m the real reason he’s scored 12 goals in 12 games – and it’s got nothing to do with what I do on the pitch.
“The kid’s very lairy, so I’ve had to threaten him a few times. I tell him that as long as he scores every week, he won’t get a minute alone in the changing room with me – the motivation is real, and fear is a great motivator.
“He’s a funny kid, but he does get a but loud and lairy, saying he’s not scared of me – but I tell him, ‘If you don’t score, you will be scared of me’.
“And don’t even think about pranks like cutting the ends off my socks. That would be a dangerous game.”
Almost as dangerous as the Tottenham who picks a fight with the Beast.
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