The 2022-2023 Championship Player of the Season, Chuba Akpom, has revealed that a series of early career disappointments nearly caused him to give up football.
The 27-year-old revealed in an interview with Daily Mail that his strong mentality saw him through during his six loan journeys away from Arsenal in pursuit of first-team experience, four of which culminated in him returning to north London without scoring a goal.
He revealed how he and his countryman Uche Ikpeazu who had played for 15 clubs between 2011 and 2022 had to continue to work hard to remain in the game despite all the uncertainties surrounding their careers.
“I didn’t know where I was going to be playing or living,” Akpom said.
“I kept my head down with Uche and worked hard so I was ready for whatever happened next. I had my bags packed.
“There have been many times when I’ve wanted to quit when things have been going wrong on loans or not getting in teams, I could have taken my foot off the gas.
“But I continued to work hard and I could see light at the end of the tunnel and I knew things would work out well for me.
“My biggest strength is my mentality. I never once doubted myself — work hard and it’ll work out.”
Akpom said that Middlesbrough manager Michael Carrick helped him realize his full potential after returning to the club from Greek club PAOK FC in 2022.
In the just concluded 2022-2023 season, the 27-year-old Nigerian football star scored 28 goals to finish as the season’s highest goalscorer and best player of the season.
Thanks to his goalscoring prowess, Chuba Akpom helped Boro to finish fourth in the final 2022-23 EFL Championship table and clinch a playoff berth which means that they still stand a chance of making it to the Premier League ahead of next season.
“Carrick spoke to me straight away,” Akpom said. “In his second session, he put me in that new role. I’m so grateful he did that — it’s got the best out of me.
“Michael is a top man. The gaffer is so humble… he would say he’s had nothing to do with my form, but I want to tell people he has been key. I can’t praise him enough for what he’s done for my career.”
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