Akinfenwa released after play-off final


Adebayo Akinfenwa (right) with fellow goalscorer Lyle Taylor

Iconic AFC Wimbledon striker Adebayo Akinfenwa revealed he has been released by the club – seconds after helping them win the League Two play-off final at Wembley.

Akinfenwa – nicknamed ‘The Beast’ – asked managers to “hit me up on WhatsApp” in his post-match interview.

The 34-year-old scored a 101st-minute injury-time penalty in the 2-0 win over Plymouth Argyle.

Embracing manager Neal Ardley, Akinfenwa shouted: “He’s releasing me!”

AFC Wimbledon will play in English football’s third tier for the first time in their history next season after sealing their sixth promotion since the club’s formation in 2002 by fans of the old Wimbledon FC, following their relocation to Milton Keynes.

Cult hero Akinfenwa, who is known for his bulky physique and strength, told BBC Radio 5 live: “Come on now, there ain’t no better way to send off. To see this team get promoted, to score with the last kick of the game, I couldn’t even write that.

“I said let’s complete this fairytale, and that’s what we’ve done.

“I’m going to miss this team, I’m going to miss this place but there ain’t no better way to leave it. It’s about progression, and AFC Wimbledon are getting stronger and stronger.

“It’s what dreams are made of, it’s beautiful.”

He told Sky Sports: “I think I’m technically unemployed, so any managers hit me up on the WhatsApp and get me a job.”

Penalty “hoo-ha”

Akinfenwa, who signed for AFC Wimbledon in June 2014, scores the injury-time penalty after missing his last two spot-kicks

AFC Wimbledon top scorer Lyle Taylor’s goal looked to have settled the match and after Adebayo Azeez was fouled in the Plymouth penalty area 11 minutes into injury time, Callum Kennedy picked up the ball to take the spot kick.

But Akinfenwa grabbed it off him as the two players argued about who should take it, before Akinfenwa scored confidently to seal victory.

“I did promise Cal K (Kennedy) that I would let him take the pen, but it was just set up too beautifully and I’m bigger than Cal so Cal’s unlucky. Sorry Cal K, I love you though, that’s all it was.

“All them who said I was too big to play football, come on now, ha ha!”

The lower league journeyman later revealed to BBC Radio 5 live: “I’m going to be honest, I would have usually said I had it covered, that I knew I was going to score. But I was nervous. When it hit the back of the net it was elation.”

Exit ‘best for both parties’

Manager Ardley told a news conference after the game that the decision to release Akinfenwa was made during “reviews” in the week before Monday’s final.

“Me and Bayo [Akinfenwa] had a very long, heartfelt chat,” said Ardley. “It was left a little bit in the open, but I think it may end being being the best for both parties, him included, if he doesn’t think he’s going to play regularly because you can’t tell me that that guy hasn’t got two years of starting games still left in him.

“He’s got his mojo back and it maybe that it goes that way, but we’ll find out probably during the week.”


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