It's October 1995. After conquering Europe, Ajax is on its way to winning the world title for club teams one month later. On the other side of the North Sea, Chuba Amechi Akpom is born east of England's capital, Canning Town. Son of Nigerian parents. Canning Town is on the edge of the river Thames.
A stone's throw from the neighbourhood lays the English football club West Ham United. Despite that, Akpom, at his young age, seeks refuge at another prominent club from London: Arsenal. There, he plays in the youth academy with fellow countryman Alex Iwobi. The years passed, and Akpom debuted at Arsenal U18 aged fifteen. Once he is seventeen, the striker signs his first contract at the Gunners.
In Arsenal's youth academy, the striker impresses with his targeting. In twenty matches at Arsenal U21, he scored thirteen times. At seventeen years old, Akpom debuted at the thirteen times champion of England. On September 13, 2013, he got subbed on during a match against Sunderland. That is the only Premier League match he plays that season. After that, the player goes on several loan spells at English clubs. His curriculum vitae includes clubs such as Brentford, Coventry City, Nottingham Forrest, Hull City and Brighton.
The attacker seeks refuge abroad. After six months at the Belgian STVV, Apkom transfers to PAOK FC in the summer of 2018. That's where he meets Ajax for the first time.
In the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Champions League, Ajax is the opponent of the Greek club. The match in the South of Europe ended 2-2 in August 2018. Ajax leads after 10 minutes of playing due to an own goal. After half an hour, Akpom is the one scoring the equalising goal. The match ends in a draw. One week later, Ajax beat PAOK FC 3-2. Akpom plays both matches completely.
After two seasons in Greece, Middlesbrough come knocking at the door. After one year in England's second league, PAOK loans the striker for another season. Akpom stays in England in the summer of 2022 after one year in the Greek sun. That proved to be the right move. The attacker has a fantastic season in the Championship. With 28 goals in 38 matches, he wins the Golden Boot in England's second league. On Boxing Day, he scores a hattrick against Wigan Athletic (4-1). Despite being the top scorer, he cannot help his club promote to the Premier League. Middlesbrough ends in fourth place and is eliminated by Coventry City in the play-offs for promotion.
We can dive a little deeper into those 28 goals. The statistics found via SkyBet Championship show that he scored fourteen goals with his right foot, seven with his left foot, and seven with his head. He scores twenty goals at home and eight goals away. Furthermore, he is the first player that scores more than twenty times in one season for Middlesbrough since 1990. Akpom is also the first Championship player that was able to score nine home matches in a row.
With those incredible statistics, the attacker earned a transfer to Ajax. In Amsterdam, he will be the fourth player to have signed for both Middlesbrough and Ajax. Michael Reiziger, Mido and Viktor Fischer were the ones before him.
Akpom is not the first Brit to have signed for Ajax. In theory, he is the successor of Calvin Bassey, who left for Fulham, but he played with his Nigerian nationality. The brothers Charlie and Tommy Setford have an English passport thanks to their dad, but they were both born in the Netherlands.
In that case, we must go back in time a little further. The last Brit at Ajax was Ray Clarke. The striker played one season in Amsterdam, 1978/1979.
Over forty years after that fact, the born Londoner will wear the white-red-white. Akpom will wear number ten—the same number of Ajax players, such as Dusan Tadic, Jari Litmanen and Dennis Bergkamp.