Name: Adeola (Ade) Peter Oluwatoyin Akinbiyi
Previous Clubs : Norwich, Hereford (loan), Leicester, Crystal Palace, Wolves, Brighton (loan), Bristol City, Barnsley, Gillingham, Sheff Utd, Stoke. Burnley(twice)
Signed by Steve Cotterill
Position : Striker
Burnley Debut (1st spell) Sunderland
Burnley Debut (2nd spell)
“You can trap a ball further than I can kick it!” was the comment passed by the legendary Perry Groves in one of Ade’s first outings for Norwich reserves. This could make you wonder why Ade has become such a legend in claret and blue but he is so much more than that.
A young Ade started his career with Norwich in 1993 making his debut against giants Bayern Munich. However in his four years with the club only started 49 games scored a paltry 3 goals. Undoubtedly Ade made his name at Gillingham, moving there in 1997 for £250,000. He quickly found his scoring boots and after 28 goals in just 63 starts he was the subject of a move to newly promoted Bristol City for 1.2mil. His stock continued to rise and following a record of a goal nearly every two games a move to “sleeping giants” Wolves for a then club record £3.5 mil followed in 1999.
The good times quickly ended though following his big money move to Leicester, he never settled at the club and despite being remembered for a rather enthusiastic topless goal celebration there was much less of this and much more of the type of performances that once led the Sun newspaper to dub him “The leagues worst striker”. Two years later he was on the move again, £2.2mil taking him south to Crystal Palace, no sooner had he settled in then he was on the move again, north to Stoke City, originally signed on a loan his former Gillingham manager Tony Pulis remembered enough for the transfer to be made permanent before the start of the 2003-4 season.
This was the turning point for Ade; he quickly became a fans favourite and started enjoying the game again. 19 goals in 63 games later and it took Steve Cotterill £600,000 to persuade Stoke to part with Ade; he moved to Burnley in January 2007 and made an immediate impact.
This impact wasn’t though the traditional goal scoring start of a striker. Ade introduced himself to the Burnley faithful by getting sent off after 2 minutes! He recovered from this early setback to go on to score 16 goals in 39 starts for Burnley. Including a memorable hat trick away against Luton Town. This alerted the striker happy Neil Warnock who shelled out £1.75mil to take him over the Pennines to Sheffield United, despite pleasing the fans by scoring in his first steel city derby his time at United was distinctly unimpressive scoring only three times in his 18 starts.
Burnley and Cotterill came calling just a year after he had left and resigned Ade back into the Claret and Blue fold for a fee totalling £750,000. Although the fee was much less than what Burnley sold him for, what they received was considerably more. Ade came back twice the person he was when he left – almost literally. He seemed to have overcome him non selection for the blades by living in the gym.
Last season he found himself behind Andy Gray and Robbie Blake in the Burnley pecking order. Gray’s departure to Charlton could see more opportunities arise for Ade this season and if he can rediscover the scoring touch of before his brief absence he will cement himself as a true Burnley hero.