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Ade Akinbiyi

Ade Akinbiyi
Norwich Career: 1993-1996 (51 appearances, 3 goals) 
Current Club:
Date of Birth: 10/10/1974 (Hackney)
Nationality: Nigerian

Biography

Born in Hackney, London, Ade is a powerfully built centre forward who graduated from the Norwich City youth team although he had offers from Arsenal. . He made his debut in November 1993 in the 1-1 home draw with Bayern Munich in the second round of the UEFA Cup. Loan spells with Hereford and Brighton granted Ade much needed league experience. However he was unable to translate this into success for Norwich City. 51 league appearances only generated three league goals and in the autumn of 1996, Ade was transferred to Gillingham for their record fee paid of £250,000. He scored 7 league goals in 19 matches in his first season in Kent.

He quickly generated interest from other clubs. The News of the World reported on November 16th 1997 that Sunderland had bid £1million for Ade's services. Newspaper reports also suggested that he could be in line for a place in the Nigerian World Cup 1998 squad although this did not materialise. The Daily Mirror reported on March 13th 1998 that Fulham manager Ray Wilkins had made a £1million bid for Ade's services. Wilkins identified the former Norwich striker as the man needed to help Fulham gain promotion to the First Division. Ade, who also interested Bristol Rovers, rejected the offer stating that he thought "Gillingham have a better chance of going up so I'm happy to stay".

Despite his 21 goals for Gillingham, they missed out on a promotion place and the ambitious Akinbiyi was linked with moves to other clubs in the summer of 1998. Although Aston Villa manager John Gregory described him as one of the best strikers outside the Premiership he joined newly promoted Bristol City. City offered £1.2million for his services. Gillingham refused at first valuing Ade at £1.8million but eventually agreed fearing losing him under the Bosman ruling the following summer. Ade's move was worth £95,000 to Norwich as part of a sell-on clause in the original contract. Gillingham have replaced Ade with Robert Taylor from Brentford who cost £500000.

At the end of the 1998/99 season, Ade had 19 goals in 44 league appearances for Bristol City. City's relegation led to fears from the Robins fans that Ade would be sold. Wimbledon website It's a Weird and Wonderful World suggested that the Dons were looking to sign Ade for a fee of about 2million. New Fulham manager Paul Bracewell was rumoured to have offered 2million for Ade's services, possibly involving Barry Hayles or Geoff Horsfield in part exchange. This was rejected by Bristol City who wanted 2.5million for their star striker. TEAMTALK then speculated that QPR would be the next club to show an interest in Ade but would have to sell some of their stars to fund such a signature. Wolves manager Colin Lee was also reported to have made a 1.2million bid but Bristol City wanted a fee in the region of 5million claimed Sport First on 6th June 1999. According to the Daily Mirror of 5th June, Premiership newcomers Watford were also preparing a 2.2million bid for Ade's services. Various sources reported two bids from Birmingham City manager Trevor Francis, one at 2million the second at 2.5million. Both were rejected. If Francis was to get his man then he will need to outbid Fulham whose manager Paul Bracewell who upped his bid to 3million according to Yahoo's Teamtalk service. This bid may have included an exchange for Fulham striker Barry Hayles, once of Bristol Rovers. According to Sunday sport newspaperSport First on 20th June, Charlton Athletic were also interested in securing Ade's signature, using the money from the sale of Danny Mills to Leeds. Internet football news site Teamtalk linked Ade with Portsmouth whose manager Alan Ball had received a 7million windfall from new owner Milan Mandaric.

Ade finally left Ashton Gate in early September 1999 signing for Wolves at a cost of 3.5million which was the club's record. He was signed to replace Irish wonderkid Robbie Keane who had departed Molineaux for Coventry City for 5.5million a few weeks earlier.

In December 1999, Ade made his international debut for Nigeria in a 2-0 defeat against Greece in Athens. To the relief of Wolves manager Colin Lee, Ade was omitted from the Nigerian squad for the African Nations Cup as this would have deprived them of his talents (at the time of writing he was third leading scorer in the First Division) for 5 to 6 games. Ade is unlikely to add to his international caps after Nigerian coach Jo Bonfrere has decided not to pick him following his refusal to join the Nigerian squad for the summer 2000 clash with Liberia.

The Sunday Mirror
reported on 6th February 2000 that Spurs were watching Akinbiyi as a possible solution to their goalscoring problem. The following day saw both The Sun and Teamtalk link Ade with a move to Blackburn Rovers. This transfer speculation surprised Wolves as Ade had lost his goalscoring touch managing just 2 goals in 12 games. The following week saw the same paper link Ade with a move to East London as West Ham were reportedly "the latest side to have him watched".

In March 2000, Ade was charged with misconduct by the Football Association for head-butting Tony Vaughan in a clash between Wolves and Notts Forest. Having already received a fine of two weeks wages and a three match suspension, Ade was likely to be banned and fined again. In June 2000, the media reported that Portsmouth manager Tony Pulis was hoping to sign Ade for 2.5million. Pulis, who worked with Akinbiyi at Bristol City, later claimed that "there is no chance of Akinbiyi coming here this summer. I'm not interested".

On 2nd July 2000, the Sunday tabloids suggested that Ade may be making a 4million move to either West Ham or Leicester as Wolves' financial perils would force them to sell. Birmingham City had an offer of 3.75million rejected (this would beat Brum's record transfer of 2.25million for Geoff Horsfield from Fulham earlier in July 2000). According to Akinbiyi's agent, Andrew Mills, writing in Sport First on July 14th 2000, Spurs were interested in signing Ade but would need to act quickly to thwart Leicester who have placed a 4.5million bid on the table. This was upped to 5million on 17th July 2000 which Wolves accepted. Terms were agreed and a medical passed before Ade finally signed for Leicester on 27th July as their record signing (beating the 3million transfers of Gary Rowett and Darren Eadie).

In September 2001, Wolves (CE Jez Moxey and manager David Jones) made a 3.2million bid to take Akinbiyi back to Molineux. This was dismissed by under pressure Peter Taylor as being offensive considering that he had been told by Wolves the previous year that Ade was a 5million man. Ade's appalling form at the beginning of the 2001/02 season combined with new Leicester manager Dave Bassett's need to sell players to fund his restructuring and rescue efforts, saw Bassett announce that he would accept offers for Ade. Wolves enquired about taking him on loan but Leicester are seeking a cash solution.

In January and February 2002, Ade was linked with a £2.5million move to Crystal Palace who were also keen on Bobby Zamora (Brighton) and Stern John (Forest). The deal was finally completed on 5th February 2002 with Ade transferring to Palace for £2.2million with an extra £150,000 to be paid if Palace won promotion. His spell at Palace has not been profitable, with injuries taking their toll. On March 2nd 2003, the Sunday People reported that Palace manager Trevor Francis was keen to let Ade out on loan thus freeing up wages and allowing them to bring in some further players to strengthen a late bid for the pla-offs. Stoke were said to be keen to take Akinbiyi under this agreement. This materialised on transfer deadline day (March 27th 2003) with Ade joining former manager Tony Pulis at Stoke.

Returning to Palace at the end of the season, Ade found himself relegated to the reserves and out of new manager Steve Kember's plans for the first team. Palace hope to sell Ade but his wage demands deter potential purchasers. On 23rd July 2003, Ade was officially transfer-listed as Palace brought in Dean Holdsworth and Neil Shipperley. Norwich fans were horrified at the end of July 2003 when it was suggested that Norwich might be looking to Akinbiyi as the solution to their goalscoring problems. Nigel Worthington quickly reassured fans that this was not going to happen.

The next club to express an interest was Walsall, on 3rd August 2003, as they might hope to bring Ade to the Bescot Stadium on a season-long loan. However Ade's agent Andrew Mills stated on 31st August that "I'd say we were actually further away from getting something done. I wouldn't expect anything to happen now." (Sport First, 31st August 2003). Palace manager Steve Kember questioned Ade's ambition as it appeared Akibiyi was happy to collect his high wages whilst turning out for Palace's reserves. "To a certain extent it's down to the player showing people he still wants to play football. You've got to weigh up the financial implications for yourself but your football career isn't long and there comes a time when you have to decide whether to play or not." said Kember ( British Football Week - 26th August 2003).

On September 13th 2003, Ade rejoined Stoke on a three year contract, despite initial reports suggesting a solitary months loan. Walsall and Gillingham had also expressed an interest whilst Ade claimed that Champions League participants Stuttgart had made enquiries during the summer! "I think people know Walsall made me a bigger offer than Stoke," said Akinbiyi. "But there was also interest from Stuttgart, Nuremburg and Gillingham. It was a massive thing to think I could be playing in the Champions' League, but the main thing for me is being made to feel welcome by a club. When I came here on loan last season everyone made me feel very welcome and I haven't forgotten that.

In Janaury 2005, Akinbiyi was the subject of two bids from Sheffield United with the Blades making Ade their priority over Liverpool reserve Neil Mellor. Wigan are also reported to have made a bid whilst the News of the World reported on 16th January that Sunderland and Leeds were also interested. Ade went "on strike" to force Stoke to consider his future. On 18th January, it was reported that Sheffield United had agreed a £600,000 fee for Stoke's leading striker although media reports two days later said that Ade had not decided whether to leave the Brittannia Stadium. Nottingham Forest, Wigan and Burnley were also linked with his signature. In the end, Ade opted for Burnley joining the Clarets in a £600,000 deal on 24th February 2005, signing a three and a half year contract. On 14th August 2005, Ade was linked with a £1million transfer to Neil Warnock's Sheffield United according to The People. This re-surfaced on 11th December 2005 in The People as Ade was topping the Championship goalscoring charts for Burnley. This even led to speculation on the Football Rumours website that Blackburn were interested in him and willing to pay £2m and/or swap Shefki Kuqi.

On 15th January 2006, the News of the World reported that Sheffield United were preparing a £1.75m raid for Akinbiyi, who was leading the Championship goal scoring charts. This came after Neil Warnock was knocked back in his pursuit of Cardiff's Cameron Jerome.Warnock finally got his man when Akinbiyi signed for £1.75m on 26th January 2006. In March 2006, football magazine Four Four Two listed Akinbiyi as their ninth best player performing in the Football League. He finished the season with 3 goals in 10(5) appearances for the Blades. Following their promotion to the Premiership, Akinbiyi's place at Bramall Lane appeared limited and he was linked with a switch to both Coventry, who had sold Gary McShefferty to Birmingham, and Watford (according to the Daily Mirror on 30th August) in August 2006. In November 2006, Ade was linked with a January transfer window switch to Gary Holloway's Plymouth Argyle along with Ugo Ehiogu, Carlos Bocanegra and Eric Djemba-Djemba according to the Football Rumours website!

On the 1st January 2007, Ade returned to Turf Moor joining Burnley for a sum reported to be £750,000 although with clauses that could take the fee up to £1.25m

At the end of March 2009, Ade was in talks with MLS side Houston Dynamo over a switch to the USA. Although Blackpool and Doncaster enquired about taking him on loan, nothing materialised for the striker who is in the final year of his contact at Turf Moor. He signed for them in April 2009 and made 14 appearances for them. he was released on 20th August 2009 following Houston's signing of 24-year-old Mexican striker Luis Angel Landin as the Dynamo needed to make room on the roster.

Rumours in The Sun on 28th September 2009 suggested that Akinbiyi would sign for Scen Goran Eriksson's Notts County, now bankrolled by Arabian millionaires. This became reality when Akinbiti received international clearance on 5th October 2009 to play for the Magpies. He made his debut on 17th October 2009 in a 0-0 draw with Rotherham

On 18th February 2010 Ade was linked with a switch to Torquay but this did not materialise. Although Ade was primarily a substitute, County won promotion to League One winning the League Two title with Ade making 9 appearances. He was released at the end of the 2009/10 season and retired from the professional game, setting up a business called Players Plus which provides players with support when they move clubs e.g. finding a new home.

In January 2011, it was announced that Akinbiyi, who had been keeping fit by training with Stoke City, would be joining Newport County but the deal fell through when Newport manager Dean Holdsworth changed his mind and then left County to take charge at Aldershot.

After a spell running a football academy in Ghana, Akinbiyi joined Welsh side Colwyn Bay as player-coach on 25th July 2013. He will work with the club's strikers and will play when required. "It is quite a coup for a club like Colwyn Bay to get him," said manager Frank Sinclair.

He left Colwyn Bay in January 2015.


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