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Interviews

Gareth: He's crucial to this place

Ainsworth spoke to Sky Sports as Adebayo Akinfenwa returned to training.

8 July 2021

Manager Gareth Ainsworth spoke to Sky Sports as Adebayo Akinfenwa returned to pre-season training after signing a new one-year contract with the Chairboys.

Ainsworth was quick to highlight that Akinfenwa’s personality and leadership skills are just as important as his footballing ability.

"When I talk about culture and when you talk about leaders and this new modern game, Bayo connects with absolutely everyone. The charisma, the person, the human being and the humility - I want to put all those before the footballer because that’s what he is - he’s such a great guy. You can rely on him, he’s there for you and he will deliver."

The Gaffer and Bayo have built up a strong relationship since the striker’s arrival in 2016, with off-the-pitch chats playing a huge part.

"Believe me, we’ve had some really good talks in the past, some stern talks too, talks about family and some talks away from football and I tell the boys that when you’re talking about other things than football, that’s when you build your biggest bonds."

The Beast, who’s been with the club since Wycombe were in League Two, has written himself into Chairboys folklore, and Ainsworth is adamant that he’ll only go on to play a bigger part this season, with promotion as the final aim.

"He’s crucial to this place - we wouldn’t have been in League One without Bayo, nevermind being promoted to the Championship two years ago. He’s played a huge part and he got a huge Championship goal against Bristol City, taking the penalty right at the end - that was a big moment for him - for someone who has been told that he can’t even play when he was younger because he’s too big."

"It’s a fantastic story and he’s come in absolutely beaming today. To have someone like that at Wycombe Wanderers again - he’s 39 now - he’s definitely eclipsing me and how long I went on for! He’s assured me that this is probably going to be his final year and I want it to be a good year. I want us to get promoted again, and he’s going to play a huge part in that."

"I’m so glad he has signed for another year and you should get yourself down to Wycombe and see what we’re talking about!"


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