Adebayo Akinfenwa was a legend in our books long before Saturday, when he sealed AFC Wimbledon's promotion to the third tier of English football with a penalty in the 101st minute of the League Two play-off final at Wembley. Not to mention a magic post-game press conference. Last year, the 5’11”, 225 pound AFC Wimbledon striker/strongman joined us to talk about his remarkable story and having the highest strength rating on EA SPORTS FIFA: 98, natch. [LISTEN HERE] In this edition of Three Questions, we speak with the man they call “Beast Mode” about living out his Wembley dream, celebrating in Vegas, and a possible future in America. #Beast2MLS
MIB: You are celebrating promotion in Vegas with the rest of your Wimbledon teammates. Tell us a little bit about the trip, how it came to be, and the first thing you did when you touched down.
AA: The trip was organized for us by one of our sponsors [Editor’s Note: Not John Green. We asked.]. They sent the entire team out here for a few days. The first thing I did was look for a decent chicken spot, but Vegas has been letting me down. I can’t find nothing like Nandos here. I need some help, people.
Other than that we’ve gotten in a few shows. We went to see Human Nature Jukebox, which I didn’t think was my style at first. But by the end, it had me singing some old Motown. We’re also checking out a hypnotist, a pool party, things like that.
This isn’t my first time in Vegas, but it’s been fun to watch all of the young players experience it for the first time. I’m living through them at the moment.
MIB: After you clinched promotion at Wembley against Plymouth Argyle, you revealed that you knew heading into the game that it would be your last wearing a Wimbledon shirt and that the club was releasing you. How did that change your approach to the game? What was your mood?
AA: I was very relaxed. I’d been to a League Two play-off final before with Northampton three years ago, so I knew what to expect. I was just determined to enjoy the day. My approach was: let the football take care of itself. I wasn’t worried about that.
As far as leaving the club. I wasn’t bitter. There was no malice there at all. The manager and I spoke about the club’s decision to release me well before the match. He had told me earlier in the season I could go out on loan if I wanted more playing time. So I kind of knew it was coming, even before our chat. But my approach to this game was: there is no better way to leave a club I love than to win and see them promoted. I scored the very first goal of this season at Crawley and I was thrilled to be able to score the final goal of the season.
MIB: Let’s talk a little about that goal. It came in the 101st minute. Wimbledon was awarded a penalty and there was a bit of … discussion … between you and Callum Kennedy about who was going to take it. Take us inside that conversation. What was said.
AA: You never like to argue. But Callum said his piece and I said mine. At the end of the day, seniority comes into play. It was too perfect of an ending for me not to take it. The only way it could’ve been better is if it was a header.
MIB: Talk about your future. How many MLS managers have called you up since you announced your release?
AA: MLS still hasn’t phoned me, as far as I know. But I haven’t spoken to my agent. I am attempting to completely unplug from football while I’m on holiday. If the right MLS team does call, I will 100% take that call and listen to what they have to say. We’ve got to bring Beast Mode across the pond.
This article originally appeared in the June 3 issue of our newsletter, The Raven. Subscribe HERE.