Exclusive: Adebayo Akinfenwa On Racism, Liverpool, José Mourinho And England

Exclusive: Adebayo Akinfenwa On Racism, Liverpool, José Mourinho And England
May 17, 2018

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The term ‘beast’ has become synonymous with one of the lower league’s most famous footballers, Adebayo Akinfenwa. Before speaking with Adebayo, there was a queue of eager fans holding copies of his autobiography ‘Beast’, waiting for the Wycombe striker to sign theirs.

Thanks to YouTuber KSI, the 36-year-old is well-known for his superior body size and strength and is a household name for those who play the FIFA franchise all around the world.

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Having started his professional career back in 2002, Akinfenwa has played for a whole host of clubs and has won numerous promotions, the latest being this season with Wycombe Wanderers. As a Liverpool fan though, we asked how he felt the season had gone for Jürgen Klopp’s side.

“I think it’s shown that we’re still one or two players away from challenging for the title, but we’ve had a good season and achieved Champions League football and reached the final. I’m disappointed in the United game [which Liverpool lost 2-0], but on the whole, I’m really happy with the progress.”

Having mentioned rivals Manchester United, we quizzed Akinenwa on the public criticism that José Mourinho has dished out to his players this season with the Wycombe forward understanding the United boss’ approach. “What managers like Mourinho say to the outside world and what they say inside is totally different.”

“Whatever he comes out with and says, the players usually can tell if it’s for a reaction or if he really means it and only they will know fully. We can only watch their performances to see if the players are playing for him or against him.”

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Thinking ahead to the World Cup and England specifically, we asked Akinfenwa if he felt sorry for his in-form striker Glenn Murray, who missed out on Gareth Southgate’s final 23-man squad, despite even scoring 12 goals for Brighton and helping them stay in the Premier League after promotion last year. “I feel sorry for me!”Akinfenwa joked.

“You know what, football is about names and not on current form. I don’t have an issue with that but then just come out and say it. If you say I don’t pick on form and then don’t pick Murray, it’s not fair so don’t get people’s hopes up.”

“Murray is a different player to what we have, so do I feel sorry for him? Yeah, I do. But he’s a pro, he’ll keep banging the goals in and be ready for a call-up if it happens.”

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With just a month left until the FIFA World Cup kicks off, the question of how Russia will deal with racism in the tournament is in the thoughts of many people and with recent cases of racial discrimination going unpunished, Akinfenwa believes those found guilty of racism should be banned for life.

“Ban them. There should be harsher punishments! It’s 2018 and you’re disliking someone for the colour of their skin? Come on, it’s archaic. Sanctions have to be toughened.”

It’s going to be hard to prevent any chants, but those found to be guilty need to be punished and taught a lesson. You want to support your country in the stadium so stadium bans for those guilty could be enough to prevent any chanting to begin with. Hopefully, it’ll just be about the football thought and we have a good World Cup to watch.”

 

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