Adrian Akande embracing life at Swansea City
It’s fair to say that Adrian Akande has enjoyed a productive start to his Swansea City career.
The exciting young winger penned a two-year scholarship with the Swans in the summer following his departure from Chelsea.
And the South East Londoner has hit the ground running in SA1; enjoying regular opportunities with the age-grade sides and scoring his first under-23s goal in the defeat at Ipswich before Christmas.
The 17-year-old’s efforts were rewarded with a first professional contract in the same month; keeping him at the club until the summer of 2023.
Akande, who previously spent four years at Crystal Palace, continued his momentum with a positive display in the development side’s 0-0 draw with Millwall on Tuesday.
The teenager demonstrated plenty of skill and pace during several dangerous runs at the visitors’ defence at Landore, and feels he has quickly settled into life in South Wales.
“I’m enjoying playing for the under-23s. It’s a step-up from under-18s football because of the physicality and tempo, but I think I’m adapting well,” he said.
“Yesterday was another good performance under my belt.
“I feel like I’ve settled in well. It’s a bit different to London but I can just work and there are no distractions, so I’m just enjoying focusing on my football.
“The main thing is that I keep pushing and striving for more. Hopefully now, I can get my numbers up in terms of goals and assists.”
Akande’s fledgling talent was nurtured by the likes of Ashley Cole and Tore Andre Flo – both winners of several major honours at Stamford Bridge – during his three-year stint in Chelsea’s youth ranks, as well as Joe Cole.
An exciting attacking midfielder boasting bundles of trickery and flair during his playing days, the latter had important words of wisdom for a youngster demonstrating similar traits to himself.
“He encouraged me to always try to find the small pockets of space, be positive and keep going forward,” Akande reflects.
“His main advice to me, though, was to never be afraid to get on the ball. That has served me well in my career.”
Akande’s flourishing ability reportedly attracted interest from Manchester United, before he linked up with the Swans last summer.
And there was one key factor in South Wales becoming his preferred destination.
“A big part of my decision to join the club was the manager’s willingness to play young players,” he explained.
“He showed that the other day by handing debuts to Cameron (Evans) and Oli (Cooper) in the FA Cup.
“There is a clear pathway to the first team.”
Akande is hopeful he can eventually follow in the footsteps of the two academy graduates and force his way into Steve Cooper’s first-team squad.
The attacking midfielder may be riding the crest of a wave after signing his first professional deal, but knows he must not rest on his laurels.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a chance to relax because I’m always trying to get better and striving for new things,” he said.
“But I’ve worked hard to get this pro contract and I’m happy to achieve that goal of mine. Now, it’s time to push on.”