John Akinde has been key in Colchester United’s recent great run of form which has included only one defeat in five outings in League Two. He has played for plenty of clubs during his career and now, at Colchester, Akinde is looking to guide the Essex-based side to a successful rest of the season.
Akinde made a name for himself during his time with Ebbsfleet United and his goal-scoring exploits earned him the move to Championship side Bristol City. A series of loan spells followed and he made the permanent switch to Crawley Town in 2011. After being released by Portsmouth in 2013, Akinde joined Alfreton Town which sparked his career back into life which subsequenly saw him join Barnet, where he had a superb four-year spell.
He has certainly seen the highs and lows of football and I asked the striker about his thoughts on Colchester’s season, his time with Barnet and more.
Colchester United currently sit in 18th place in League Two, nine points out of the relegation zone. What are you overall thoughts on the campaign?
‘I think that it was certainly a slow start. However, as time has gone on, we have shown that we are a good team capable of competing with anyone in this division.’
What was it like to get the move to Bristol City in the 2008/09 season after an impressive spell with Ebbsfleet United and do you think your time with the Fleet really kicked off your career?
‘To get my move to Bristol City, I believe, was a great achievement. I was really excited and grateful for the opportunity to play in the Championship. I would say that playing for Ebbsfleet definitely kicked off my career.’
Akinde goes onto say: ‘I was playing with adults at the age of 17 so that gave me a good platform to work from, especially not coming from an academy setup. I will always be grateful for the opportunity Ebbsfleet gave me to make my professional debut in English football.’
You had a series of loan spells to various clubs when you were at Bristol City. What was your time on loan like to clubs including Wycombe Wanderers, Brentford and Bristol Rovers?
‘Yes, I had a few loan spells in that time. I had a very successful one at Wycombe, the first time I was there, and we ended up getting promoted to League One and that was my first promotion which was a great experience. Dagenham & Redbridge was also a good loan move for myself because I believe I performed really well in my time there.’
‘All my other loan spells, I would say, were not successful, yet were great experiences. I wasn’t given opportunity at Brentford, I got injured and I had a second loan spell at Wycombe and unbeknown to me, I was playing with a double hernia while at Bristol Rovers so didn’t perform well.’
How important do you think your time with Alfreton Town was after being released by Portsmouth, which then earnt you the move to Barnet?
‘My time at Alfreton was extremely important. Football, at the time, was not going too well – I believe this was because I wasn’t given a fair opportunity at Crawley Town and Portsmouth. I played at Crawley mainly as a substitute and got promoted with the team but I never really felt appreciated. As for Portsmouth, I was just never given the opportunity to perform.’
‘Going to Alfreton was like a fresh start and I was given the freedom to play my own game. This was massive for me as I found great confidence again and ended up scoring 19 goals before moving to Barnet.’
You had a four-year spell at Barnet where you made over 150 appearances for the Bees. How would you summarise your time in north London?
‘My time at Barnet will always hold a special place in my heart. Not only did we win the league there, I also went on to score 33 goals in my first season. This was followed by more than 50 goals for them in the Football League. My time there was a truly great experience, I met some great people and played with some great players.’
You have been at just under 20 clubs during your career. Where would you say you have enjoyed your football the most?
‘It’s really hard to say where I enjoyed my football most because I’ve had success at Barnet, Alfreton, Lincoln and managed to play in the Championship for Bristol City. Personally, these clubs have been great. However. I have enjoyed my time at all of my clubs I have played for because without that, I wouldn’t be where I am today.’
What are your long-term ambitions in football?
‘My long-term ambitions is to keep trying to perform well for my club and keep trying to contribute to whatever club I am at and make them and myself successful.’
A massive thank you to John Akinde (@_1ak_ on Instagram) for making the time for this interview.