Hakeeb Adelakun: Scunthorpe United winger wins EFL Young Player of the Month award

Hakeeb Adelakun
Hakeeb Adelakun scored twice in November and claimed all three assists in a 3-0 League One win at Northampton

"I don't normally speak about individuals publically but I think now is the time for Hakeeb to grow up and be a man. He is not a boy. It's down to him."

In a world where managers are reticent to single out players for praise or criticism, Scunthorpe boss Graham Alexander's assessment of winger Hakeeb Adelakun in March this year felt startling.

Adelakun found himself out of the Iron team and there were even rumours the club would release him, just over four years after becoming their youngest ever player at the age of 16.

"I do feel I have grown up and the gaffer has pulled me and said that I've come back with a new attitude and that has helped me a lot," Adelakun told BBC Radio Humberside.

"I had a meeting with him at the end of the season and he got into me a bit and I was thinking about it all summer. I just wanted to get back in as soon as I could and get back at it.

"He just wanted to see how he could get the best out of me and he's been working with me since day one to do that."

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FA Cup: Scunthorpe's Hakeeb Adelakun scores a screamer against Northampton

The 21-year-old's performances last month, including an eye-catching winner in an FA Cup first-round replay against Northampton, have seen him win the EFL's Young Player of the Month award for November.

Alexander is not the only person Adelakun credits with helping him get his career back on an upward trajectory. Older brother Hakeem, 26, has also played a pivotal role in getting the youngster playing to his potential.

The midfielder started his career with Crystal Palace but never featured for the Eagles and has gone on to play for a host of non-league sides, most recently spending time on loan with eighth tier Horsham.

"Sometimes I'll sit on the phone to him for hours and he always watches the games back with me and gives me points," said Adelakun.

"Seeing him get that close and not do it makes me drive on that bit more because I want to try and make it for both of us."

'I just wanted to play football'

Adelakun became the Iron's youngest ever player when he came on as a substitute in a League One defeat by Tranmere on 29 December 2012, aged 16 years and 201 days.

Quite an achievement for a teenager who had only moved up to Lincolnshire from Croydon that summer after being released by West Ham.

It was something of a leap of faith but one the youngster was comfortable making.

"I'd been released by Crystal Palace before and I had a bit of a down moment but because I'm young I just wanted to play football, I didn't care where it was," he added.

"The coaches here really helped me to settle in and I got used to being here quickly.

"It's unbelievable to look back and think that I made my debut at 16. It feels like it's gone so quickly but I've learned a lot and I'm still learning."

'I forget my own celebration'

Hakeeb Adelakun
Scunthorpe fans will hope to see plenty of this celebration between now and the end of the season

Three goals in his last seven games has given the Iron faithful a chance to see Adelakun's acrobatic somersault celebration, although calling it a trademark would seem slightly disingenuous.

"I was about eight or nine and I saw Obafemi Martins doing it and I just went in my back garden and started practising it," added Adelakun.

"It's such a rush when you score that I don't know what to do. I just set off running and then I think 'oh yeah, obviously I somersault'."

After a slightly inconsistent start the Iron, like Adelakun himself, enjoyed a strong November and are now fifth in League One, five points off second-placed Shrewsbury.

He feels the squad have what it takes to make up for the disappointment of last season when they were beaten in the semi-finals of the play-offs by Millwall.

"We're a big, strong team and we can challenge at the top of this league," he said. "It would be unbelievable to get promoted."

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