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Dublin: 10 °C Wednesday 24 April, 2019
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Liverpool have to deal with FIFA 15's strongest player when they face AFC Wimbledon tonight

Adebayo Akinfenwa can reportedly bench press 180 kilos.

Akinfenwa pictured in his days at Northampton.
Akinfenwa pictured in his days at Northampton.
Image: Empics Sports Photography Ltd.

ADEBAYO AKINFENWA IS not your typical striker. Weighing in at 16-and-a-half stone with a career spent sampling the very best the lower English leagues have to offer, he is an unlikely FA Cup hero.

And yet he is the man to whom Wimbledon will turn to when Liverpool come to town tonight. Far from the slighter, athletic strikers who light up the Premier League each week, Akinfenwa, who enjoys cult status among football fans as the strongest player in EA SPORTS FIFA 15, is of a different breed.

He claims to be able to bench press 180 kilograms and talks of activating his own special talent – ‘Beast Mode’ – when he comes face-to-face Brendan Rodgers’ men at Kingsmeadow Stadium.

“Liverpool are not used to playing a 16-and-a-half stone striker,” he says, “so I’m hoping that they look at me and think ‘Oh no, what is this?’ and they just don’t know how to handle me.”

Yet Akinfenwa – who has played for 13 clubs, including Lithuanian side FK Atlantas – shuns the suggestion that he has a point to prove to those who claim that he is merely a ‘big man’, insisting that he embraces the criticism and uses his size to his advantage.

“The simple answer? No,” he replies when asked if he hopes to settle any scores.

“I’m 32 so I’m not a child, in that sense, and I’m not really worried of the perception people have of me. As a footballer I know what I’m good at and I’ve now embraced it. There was a long period when I was younger where people always talked about my size and I was going ‘but look, I can play, though, I can play’ but you look at it, to have a career, 12-13 years, you’ve got to be more than just a brute.”

Despite the presumed gulf in class between the two sides, Akinfenwa is hopeful that the magic of the FA Cup can help his team spring a shock.

He continues: “You can’t sugarcoat it: we’re a League Two club, I’m a League Two player and they’re a Prem [team].

“But I do hope that, for this one game, with the lights, them coming to our place, that we want it a bit more than them and we get a bit of luck – because we’re going to need some luck – and we win the game.”

While the Crazy Gang may have come and gone, Akinfenwa hopes that ‘Beast Mode’ will earn a similar place in Wimbledon folklore on Monday.

by Harry Sherlock

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