Adebayo Akinfenwa says he can't wait to back to Adams Park for tonight's pre-season friendly against his former club AFC Wimbledon (k.o. 7.45pm).
The 'Beast' was granted an extended summer break to pursue ventures outside of football, but returned to training a fortnight ago and is set to continue his preparations for the new season by featuring against the Dons this evening.
He said: “Training has been tough because I came back a couple of weeks after everyone else so they’re ahead of me in terms of fitness, but it’s been a good first week back and I’m pleased that I’ve been able to go straight into playing games which is helping me.
“It feels like we’re just picking up where we left off last season, which finished really strong, so the mood in the camp is buzzing and everyone’s bubbly and getting on well. It’s nice to see the familiar faces and we want to use the end of last season as a springboard to kick on now.”
He prepares to come up against AFC Wimbledon for the first time since leaving the club in 2016, having netted a penalty at Wembley in the play-off final to seal their place in League 1.
“I’ve kept in close contact with the Wimbledon lads – we were a very close bunch and became good friends off the pitch, so it’ll be good to see them again. I’ve spoken to (manager) Neal Ardley over the summer as well which was nice, and he’s assembled a strong team there so it’ll be a tough test for us.
“To score at Wembley was priceless and there was no better way for me to sign off as a Wimbledon player. It’s the biggest moment of my career, even better than scoring against Liverpool, and I’ll never forget it.
“I’m lucky that I always seem to strike up good relationships with the fans at my clubs and that was definitely the case at Wimbledon, so I hope they don’t boo me too much! It’ll be nice to see them again.”
So after a whirlwind first year in the light and dark blue quarters, what’s next?
“If it’s anything like the first year, it’ll be intense!”, he said. “I played more games that I expected and there’s so many plus points to take from it, so I want to take them into this season, get fitter and stronger, and bring whatever I can on and off the pitch. We’ll set our goals and aims and do all we can to achieve them.”