Tag Archives: Barnet FC

Simeon Akinola v PAFC

Q&A – Barnet striker Simeon Akinola

Simeon Akinola was tipped as “non-league’s next star” last summer by Lincoln City manager Danny Cowley, whose reputation for spotting talent has surely been underlined by the Imps’ sensational run to the FA Cup quarter-finals.

The Nigerian-born striker has played for Borehamwood, Billericay, Harrow Borough and under Cowley at Braintree. He was signed from the latter by League Two Barnet ahead of the January transfer window for £40,000.

Six years ago, Akinola was trying to impress in an open trial at his current club, and his route into the Football League hasn’t been straightforward.

He’s also played in Spain, having spent part of his upbringing in Madrid, and has a degree in engineering.

Elephant Sport spoke to the 24-year-old forward about his career to date, working with Cowley and his university studies.

 

What was it like being described as the ‘non-league’s next star’ by Lincoln City manager Danny Cowley?

It was great encouragement because Danny is well-respected within football. He’s someone I really admire, and to hear such praise from him was very positive.

You joined Barnet FC in January and must have been delighted to make the step from non-league to professional status?

Absolutely. It’s been my target ever since I arrived from Spain in 2007. I’m delighted to be part of Barnet FC and I look forward to help this club progress.

How much of a difference is it from turning out for the likes of Borehamwood, Billericay and Braintree to playing full-time?

It’s certainly a step up, particularly because of the fitness levels you reach as a full-time professional. Yet, I look fondly to the time I spent at those clubs because I gained skills that will help me through my career as a pro.

Did you ever think you would play in the professional game?

Yes, I had no doubt. I’ve always been confident in my ability, plus I’ve worked very hard to make sure I was ready for the opportunity.

I have seen your videos on YouTube and one in particular caught my eye. You attended Barnet’s ‘Get Signed Up’ trials, and then six years later you joined them for £40k. What happened at those trials, and do you feel it was destined to be after finally signing for the Bees?

I remember attending those trials when I was younger. You could say it’s destiny in a way because it was when the Hive [Stadium] first opened. But again there are no coincidences. The key to getting here has been God’s grace and hard work.

I read that you are eligible to play for Nigeria and Spain; is international football something you would consider?

It’s every players dream to represent their country. In regards to Spain, it’s very unlikely, but I’d love to represent the Super Eagles at some point in my career.

Not many footballers have a degree. How important was it to you to get yours alongside your football career?

The degree is actually in Systems Engineering! It was something encouraged by my parents. In our culture, education is regarded very highly. Plus it’s always good to have some qualifications for life after football should I decide to use them.

Do you think more footballers should continue their education and study for degrees?

I believe so. Football is unpredictable and the pro game only has room for so many players. A degree or any sort of higher education will ensure those who are unfortunate to not get there have something to fall back on.

After your career in football, will you be using your degree to get a job or will you remain in football? Or being still so young, have you not thought so far ahead?

It’s hard to say. A part of me wants to remain in football to help raise the next generation. But it all depends on how my career pans out.

Finally, a quick word on your former manager Danny Cowley; how well has he done to achieve such greatness with Lincoln City in the FA Cup?

It doesn’t come as a surprise to those who have worked with him before. He’s a top top manager destined for greatness, and I hope to work with him again at some point in the future.

Feature image courtesy of Barnet FC: follow the Bees on Twitter @BarnetFC

You can follow Simeon on Twitter @Simeonakinola15

Guthmy’s ambition still burns brightly

It’s a cautionary tale for any young footballer who thinks they’ve got what it takes.

Even if you’re pretty good, and people keep telling you that you’ll definitely ‘make it’, do you really possess that extra 5-10% of something almost indefiniable that clubs are looking for in future stars?

“When an opportunity like that is presented you have to be willing to sacrifice everything to be successful”

More and more kids are attracted to a career as a professional footballer because of the rewards on offer, but Kamal Guthmy’s story highlights the difficulty of getting to that level and the sacrifices one has to make to chase the dream.

For the last three years, Guthmy has been living away from home all over England in order to pursue his ambition of becoming a pro player.

After being released by Barnet FC in 2013, he was recruited by the Nike Academy which helps unsigned talent find clubs willing to take a chance on them.

Impressed

“They play against some of the biggest teams, and if you perform well those teams may take you on trial,” says Guthmy. “And if you do well during those trials, they may sign you

“It was an amazing experience because playing against and for those clubs is the pinnacle of a young boy’s dream of being a footballer.

“What I gained from it was that no matter where or how you grow up, with or without help, when an opportunity like that is presented you have to be willing to sacrifice everything to be successful.”

That’s exactly how his move to Birmingham City earlier this year came about, as his performances at Nike Academy landed him a trial with the Championship side. He impressed in two development squad games and landed a six-month deal to train full-time with their Under-21s squad.

Guthmy recalled: “I moved to Birmingham after I signed. At first I was staying in a team hotel, but then after a month I got my own house. I was training six days a week and mostly two sessions a day.”

Motivation

The 20-year-old was devastated when the Blues opted not to keep him on after his contract expired. He admits he lost his motivation but still learnt from the experience.

“There’s a lot of pressure, and you have to be ready for any opportunity that’s given to you – to be ready to get chucked in to the deep end.

“Guthmy will continue to try and impress in the non-league game as he aims to make it third time lucky as a professional”

“As soon as it [his release] happened, I went on holiday. I took a couple of weeks off and then I played for a few lower league teams.

“I was then gone for a month because I lost my motivation for a while, but then I just started playing again.”

It was football or nothing for the Kenyan-born winger who currently plays in the Conference South for Chelmsford Town.

“To be honest, there was never a plan B, but as I got older it was the case of if I got injured and never got to play again, then maybe go in to coaching.”

Intensity

At the moment, Guthmy combines playing for Chelmsford with coaching for a company called Badu Sports.

“We go in to schools and coach. They found out that I had the FA level 2 coaching badge and so they wanted me to start coaching kids. It’s rewarding but, to be honest, if I did want to get into coaching, I’d rather coach teams than in schools.”

In the meantime, Guthmy will continue to try and impress in the non-league game as he aims to make it third time lucky as a professional.

“As well as the ability of the players, the big difference is the intensity,” he explained. “Here, I’m training three or four days a week, whereas at Birmingham it was six.”

Even though he suffered setbacks on the road to achieving his goal, Guthmy remains determined to ‘make it’. This ambitious and driven young player is not prepared to give up on his deam of one day playing in the Champions League just yet.