John Akinde may still be revelling in Barnet’s hard-earned promotion but after landing himself a national award, the striker he is ready to take the Football League by storm.
Akinde picked up the prestigious NLFA Player of the Year gong at The Non-League Paper’s National Game Awards in association with The NLFA, on Wednesday.
The event, held at Fulham’s Craven Cottage, saw the marksman honoured after banging in 31 league goals as Barnet secured a return to the Football League by winning the Conference.
The Bees beat Gateshead 2-0 on the final day of the season to pip Bristol Rovers to the title by a single point, ending their two-year absence from the fourth tier, and Akinde says that despite his prolific goalscoring, he never expected any individual recognition.
“It’s a great achievement to win the Player of the Year and I really do appreciate the fact that people are voting for me,” he explained.
“It’s not something I thought about – I was just trying to go out there and perform the best that I can.
“It was massively important to get promotion – that was the aim we spoke about at the start of the season and we managed to achieve it.
“I’ve done well in the Conference the last two seasons, so I’m really looking forward to testing myself in the Football League.
“I’m confident I can keep scoring – with the quality players around me I can keep getting chances in the area and I should be able to get the same amount of goals.”
Akinde wasn’t the only Barnet player to find success at Craven Cottage as teammate Andy Yiadom clinched the FA England C Player of the Year.
Yiadom, who can play at right-back or on the right of midfield, scored in the 4-2 win over Estonia at Halifax as well as the 2-1 loss to Cyprus U21 in Larnaca, and the 23-year-old admits no longer being eligible is the one downside of promotion to League Two.
“It’s an honour and a privilege to represent your country at any level and I’ve really enjoyed playing for England C,” explained Yiadom.
“It’s a bit bittersweet that I won’t be able to play for England C anymore because I love going away to different countries representing them.
“But it’s an achievement getting promoted to League Two, so I will take that on the chin.”
The NLFA are delighted to have sponsored the National Game Awards. With a new membership package coming soon to include Income & Career Ending Insurance, The NLFA are becoming a very important role in the lives of Non-League footballers. Visit http://www.thenlfa.com/ for more information.