Where are they now?: Dele Adebola is one of my all time favourite Crewe players. His height, strength and pace have made him a deadly striker.
Bamberdele “Dele” Adebola was born in Lagos, Nigeria in 1975. He came to England as a small boy with his family and settled in the North West.
Dele played in the same youth teams as Robbie Fowler. They were both seen as having excellent potential and were offered places at the Liverpool youth team training scheme. With Adebola knowing the talent that his close friend Fowler had as a left sided striker, he decided not to compete with him and elected to join the youth setup at Crewe.
Adebola impressed in the youth and reserve teams and was rewarded with his debut in the 1992/93 season at the age of 17. He went on to make 6 appearances for the team in that season but didn’t have the same success as he did in the reserves.
The following season Dele went to gain first team experience on loan at Bangor City and Northwich Victoria. With Dele gaining this experience he returned to the Railwaymen’s first team in the 1994/95 campaign and featured in 30 games, scoring 8 goals. In the 1995/96 season Dele again managed to net 8 times in 30 league games to help the team to the play-offs for the second year running.
In our famous promotion season of 1996/97 Dele showed his true potential. He scored 16 times in 32 appearances and played a key role in our play-off win over Brentford at Wembley.
At the start of the 1997/98 season Dele proved himself to be a more than capable striker at Division 1 standards by scoring 7 goals for the Alex. This attracted the attention of several ‘big’ clubs. It wasn’t long before offers came in, namely offers of £800,000 from West Ham and £1m from Sunderland. These offers were rejected by the Alex. Adebola was said to be bitterly disappointed about not being able to join West Ham and had problems motivating himself to play for the Alex after the rejected offer.
Dele had made it clear that he wanted to leave Gresty Road and in February 1998 Crewe reluctantly accepted an offer of £1m from Trevor Francis’ Birmingham City.
In total Adebola made 140 appearances for the Railwaymen in all competitions and scored 44 goals.
Dele continued where he left off by scoring goals in his first 5 games for Birmingham with his first ever Birmingham goal being scored against Crewe at Gresty Road. He finished the campaign with 7 goals for Birmingham in 16 appearances.
In his first full season at Birmingham he scored 14 goals in the league. In the 1999-00 season he fell out of favour at the club and only managed to score 5 goals in 43 appearances. At the end of the season he was transfer listed. Soon after Las Palmas announced that they had signed Dele, but his moved to La Liga collapsed on medical grounds.
Adebola was kept on the transfer list to provoke him into performing well. These performances helped Birmingham to the League Cup final in 2001. A serious knee injury however kept him out of the team for sometime. As a result he was loaned out to Oldham where he played 5 games to regain his fitness. After his loan deal ended, the new Birmingham manager Steve Bruce elected not to renew his contract and he was released from the club.
After being released he was signed by former manager Trevor Frances at Crystal Palace. Adebola scored 5 goals in 39 league games before he was released again at the end of the season.
Dele then joined Gary McAllister at Coventry City in 2003. Adebola was sent out on loan to Burnley and Bradford City to recapture his form which had eluded him since the early stages of his career at Crewe and Birmingham.
Dele finally became a first team regular player in the Coventry side in the 2005-06 season. He had recaptured his form and netted 12 times in 39 league appearances for the Sky Blues. At the start of this season Dele’s form continued and he managed to score 6 goals in the first half of the season.
Adebola’s strength, pace and passion made him a fans favourite at Coventry before he elected to move away to his current club Bristol City in the January transfer window for an undisclosed fee.
Dele made an instant impression for the Robins by scoring 7 minutes into his home debut at Ashton Gate to help City beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1.
Adebola has currently played 5 games for the Robins and has scored 2 goals.