They said he was too big to play football and, last week, someone repeatedly called him a “big, fat water buffalo,’’ but Adebayo Akinfenwa is now having the last laugh.
The 38-year-old Nigerian heavyweight footballer has just helped Wycombe Wanderers clinch a place in the English Championship next season for the first time in the club’s history.
And, even Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, sent him a congratulatory video message.
“Congratulations. I watched the game and I didn’t see the post-match interviews but Hendo (Jordan Henderson) or my players told me that you want to get in contact with me on Whatsapp,’’ said Klopp.
“Here we go, congratulations!
“I’m pretty sure you were your whole life, at least, a Championship player, and now finally you are there, well done. Great, great victory.
“Even in these strange times I hope you celebrate, appropriately!”
Wycombe beat Oxford 2-1 in the League One play-off final on Monday night.
Joe Jacobson scored the winner from the penalty spot with 11 minutes remaining.
Four years ago, Liverpool fan Akinfenwa asked managers to “hit me up on Whatsapp and get me a job” after helping AFC Wimbledon secure promotion into League One, having said he believed he was “technically unemployed”.
On Monday, he joked that only Klopp should get in touch with him so they can celebrate together after Wycombe were promoted to the Championship.
The former Swansea forward’s contract at Wycombe is also set to expire at the end of the campaign, but Akinfenwa insisted only Klopp was allowed to send him a message this time around.
“Look, look, let me calm down. First and foremost, I want to thank God, because today he made the impossible possible,’’ he told Sky Sports.
“Four years ago I stood in front of you and I was technically unemployed.
“Let me tell you something, the only person that can hit me up on WhatsApp this time is Klopp, so we can celebrate together. You get me?’’
The former Millwall striker was also subjected to racist abuse during the play-off semi-final clash against Fleetwood Town.
Claims suggested he was repeatedly called a “fat water buffalo’’ by a Fleetwood representative, an incident which sparked an FA investigation.
But Akinfenwa insisted he was in no mood to discuss that particular incident so soon after Wycombe had achieved their goal.
“There’s a time for me to speak on that, and I will speak on it,’ he added. “Life in football is all about opinions. Someone gave their opinion on me, and that was their opinion.
“I hope my story shows that the only opinion that matters is the opinion you have about yourself.
“I was lucky and blessed to find a manager and players who believed in me, so we are here today, and I’ll say it for the people in the back: Wycombe’s in the Championship.
“Wait, wait, I’ll say it one more time: Wycombe is in the Champio- Wait! The people in the back didn’t hear me! Wycombe is in the Championship!’’
Bill Turnbull, a Wycombe fan, said this is what dreams are made of.
“After watching football for almost 50 years, today I have the answer to a question many supporters ask themselves,’’ he tweeted.
“Every season I wonder, why am I doing this? Now I know. It’s because football is a place where dreams really do come true. Thank you to all, at Wycombe.’’ — Sky Sports/Mailonline.