Chuba Akpom, the 2022/23 Championship Player of The Season, says he almost quit football after several setbacks during his early career days, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
In an interview with Daily Mail, the 27-year-old added that six loans spells away from Arsenal in search of first-team football — four of those short-term moves ending with him returning to north London and having not scored a single goal built his mentality.
“I didn’t know where I was going to be playing or living,” Akpom said.
“I kept my head down with Uche (Ikpeazu) and worked hard so I was ready for whatever happened next. I had my bags packed.
“There’s been many times when I’ve wanted to quit when things have been going wrong on loans or not getting in teams, I could have taken my foot off the gas.
“But I continued to work hard and I could see light at the end of the tunnel and I knew things would work out well for me.
“My biggest strength is my mentality. I never once doubted myself — work hard and it’ll work out.”
Akpom, who won the Championship Player of The Season award after scoring a division-high 28 goals, added that Middlesbrough manager Michael Carrick brought the best out of him when he arrived at the club.
“Carrick spoke to me straight away,” he says. “In his second session, he put me in that new role. I’m so grateful he did that — it’s got the best out of me.
“Michael is a top man. The gaffer is so humble… he would say he’s had nothing to do with my form, but I want to tell people he has been key. I can’t praise him enough for what he’s done for my career.”