Academy Spotlight: Oladapo Afolayan

Oladapo Afolayan

Each week, we'll be introducing you to a promising product of the Academy of Football - in their words.

From hard work on the pitch to talking tactics on FIFA, meet 22-year-old striker Oladapo Afolayan...

My Roots

The first football team I played for was Harrow St Marys - I joined them as an Under-5, and I remember my school friend’s Uncle was in charge of the team! My Dad has probably been the biggest influence on my footballing career so far. He encouraged me to play football all the time when I was growing up.

I only became a striker when I started playing at Non-League level. Non-League tactics were a bit different and I managed to cope with the physicality well and score quite a few goals. Growing up I was predominantly a winger because I was very small. When I and [Dan] Kempy were at Chelsea together, we were known as the small ones. I’ve had a growth spurt and he is still waiting for his!

The thing I struggled with the most growing up was my height, being constantly moved around in different positions because I wasn’t big enough or strong enough back then. That was my biggest challenge.

Oladapo Afolayan


My Inspirations

Thierry Henry and Freddie Ljungberg were my idols when I was younger. I grew up in North London and I remember for my seventh birthday party I dyed my hair red!

An individual performance that inspired me had to be Thierry Henry at the Bernabeu in the Champions League 2006. His whole game was just unreal.

I base my game on a couple of different players: I admire Jamie Vardy’s work-rate, and I try to work as hard as he does. I also like other players like Edinson Cavani, who get into great areas with great movement. That’s what I’m working on and trying to improve on.

Afolayan cites the movement of Edinson Cavani as one of his inspirations

My Teammates

My closest friend in the squad is probably Nathan Holland - him and [former West Ham midfielder] Joe Powell have got a group chat, the three of us! 

The hardest workers are probably either Conor Coventry or Ben Johnson - though I’d like to say I’m up there as well! The most natural talent belongs to either Nathan or Alfie Lewis.

The practical joker of the squad is a tough one... Reece Hannam is funny! There aren't too many practical jokes though - the lads aren’t at that level yet!

Oladapo Afolayan


FIFA, Films & Food

My friends hate me because of how I play on FIFA! It’s all about playing as Atletico Madrid. I go 1-0 up and defend! 

I reckon we need to have a tournament soon amongst the lads. I rank near the top end of the squad. Louie Watson uses all the cheats - he’s going to say he beat me, which he did to be fair - but he was cheating!

I also play Fortnite all the time. I only play FIFA if I’m playing against other people - because I’m too good at FIFA, I moved onto Fortnite! Most of the boys in the U23s squad play it, though some of the boys have gone off it. It’s been out a long time, so we’re the hardcore ones still sticking to it! 

My favourite TV series is a tough one... I would say Game of Thrones, but they ruined the ending, so I’ll say Billions! My favourite films are Now You See Me and Now You See Me 2 - you can’t beat them - and my favourite music artist is Dave.

In terms of the food I eat, I’m not really a foody. I like Asian cuisine and then I like steaks as well, but I don’t have a favourite food in particular. I used to go to the Chinese that’s around the corner quite a lot - smoked shredded chicken and Singapore fried rice every time! 

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