Adebayo Akinfenwa's passion for Nigeria is as strong as it is for Liverpool

Wycombe Wanderers hero Adebayo Akinfenwa may be famous for being the strongest player on FIFA, and for his joshing with Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp, but few people are familiar with the striker's passion and enduring love for the Nigeria Super Eagles.

Born in London of Nigerian descent, Akinfenwa's relationship with the Super Eagles stretches back to their debut World Cup appearance in 1994, when the team's performance helped the now-38-year-old understand the value of embracing the culture of his ancestry.

Akinfenwa is unequivocal about the influence that football can have for the Nigerian diaspora, and for the expression of individual identity for Nigerians outside of their land of origin today.

"I remember the 1994 World Cup, the Super Eagles with [Daniel] Amokachi, Jay-Jay Okocha and [Rashidi] Yekini like it was yesterday," he told ESPN. "It was such an immense feeling, coming up against Argentina, and I can remember that World Cup being amazing for Nigeria.

"It leaves an impression, and what I loved the most was the fact that you saw our culture, when they scored; and those celebrations, you saw the colours.

"So as a Nigerian [I saw to] never be afraid to embrace your culture, to let people know what your culture is, and I don't shy away from who I am. Everything I do, I let [people] see who I am and I don't shy away from being me; that's what I take away from 1994 and 1998.

"That was what I got from it, as a youngster, going into manhood; that was what I was able to take from watching the Super Eagles."

For Akinfenwa, the Super Eagles' representation of Nigeria in international football and on the global stage has been a vehicle for a visible modern Nigerian identity to blossom among the nation's diaspora in Europe and beyond.

He also hailed Everton and Nigeria attacker Alex Iwobi, a Super Eagles international raised in London, as being representative of this current expression of modern global Nigerian identity.

Akinfenwa added: "There are changing times, different generations, different mindsets, and from the Amokachis, the Yekinis, the Jay-Jay Okochas, cultural representation has changed now, to the way you're looking at Iwobi, and it's the new-age generation, the new-age culture.

"To be fair, it's always been there, but now there's a vehicle and an avenue where it all gets put together, and you get to see it.

"[Nigerian musicians] Burna Boy and Davido come down and you see the young Nigerian boys in their concerts, you see them watching them and then you see them watching the games, and it's all now moving together."

Already recognised beyond the English lower leagues for his FIFA fame, Akinfenwa made headlines again when he was part of the Wycombe side that defeated Oxford United 2-1 in the League One playoff final on Monday.

In a cheeky post-match interview, the forward invited Klopp to contact him to celebrate the Chairboys' success, and the Premier League-winning coach duly obliged, sending Akinfenwa a congratulatory WhatsApp message.

While Akinfenwa can now look forward to playing in the Championship, at 38, the prospect of an international career may be beyond him.

However, the imposing frontman notes that he was aware of one campaign to get him a maiden Super Eagles cap.

"I had [interest] when I was young," he told ESPN.

"I was 21 when I hooked up with [former England striker of Nigerian origin] John Fashanu; there was talk then, but Nigeria are always blessed with great strikers so it was harder for me.

"I know there was a campaign one time to try and get me out there, but they weren't really feeling me and that... maybe they haven't got a kit that can fit me."