Championship stalwart Albert Adomah out to end nearly-man status and live the dream with boyhood club QPR

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 (PA)
(PA)

Albert Adomah has played 458 times in the Championship, more than any other outfield player since the division rebranded under that name, but only twice in the Premier League.

In fact, a record-breaking second tier career that has taken in six clubs across a dozen seasons has seen the QPR man earn just as many promotions to the top flight of English football as appearances in it.

Given their rarity, it is no surprise he has little trouble recalling both games. “The first was against Stoke [for Middlesbrough],” he says. “I helped set up Alvaro Negredo to score, I think, he’d just signed. And then the second was Sunderland, we won 2-1.”

The games came nine days apart, in August 2016, months after Adomah had helped fire Boro back into the Premier League, but by the time the summer’s transfer window had closed he found himself back in the Championship, sold to Aston Villa in a move he puts down to “circumstances” and “a few personal reasons”.

“I thought I’d reached the Promised Land,” he adds. “But I guess it wasn’t the Promised Land for me.”

It would be a hard-luck story enough were history not to have repeated itself just three years later when, having climbed the promotion ladder with Villa, Adomah once again landed on a snake, sliding back into the Championship after being deemed surplus to requirements by Dean Smith.

“I was out of contract,” he explains. “I’d been top scorer the year before and thought I’d be rewarded with a new contract but it never worked out. That was one of my lowest points.

“There’s no loyalty in football and it hurts me to say that. I’m sure if it was any other person they’d have got what they deserved, anyone in a business or work life — if you do well you get rewarded. I just felt like I was let down, I was hurt. That was it: ‘Bye, bye, thanks for helping’, and I had to move on.”

It would have disheartened even the brightest and most resilient of characters, and Adomah is certainly that, renowned as one of the nicest men in football, adored by fans of every club he has been at on his way up the pyramid from non-league Harrow Borough, followed by the affectionate nickname Uncle Albert.

“I think it started at Bristol City,” he laughs. “Obviously, with the name Albert and Only Fools and Horses, it fit, but it was more about how I used to act. I was more mature and the youngsters would say: ‘Look at this uncle!’.”

 (PA)
(PA)

Nowhere, however, has Adomah been more loved than where he is right now, pushing for a third promotion, this time with the club he supported as a boy.

“I used to play outside Loftus Road — they’ve turned it into a five-a-side place now,” he says. “We used to call it The Rubber because the turf used to be full of these rubber bits.

“As a boy from down the road, walking past the stadium, I never thought they’d be signing me. I can’t put it into words — you have to be in my shoes to feel it, it’s just amazing.”

Adomah has been endearing himself to the Rs faithful for years, barely celebrating a match-winning double for Villa at Loftus Road in 2017, despite having no attachment to the club beyond an emotional one until he signed for them three years later.

If I was to get promotion with my boyhood club — and play more than two games in the Premier League, I could retire happy.

But his performances this season — repurposed as a wing-back — have taken things to another level, the 34-year-old playing a crucial role in a fledgling young side that are right in the mix for automatic promotion.

“It would top everything,” he says, in answer to the obvious question. “If I was to get promotion with my boyhood club — and play more than two games in the Premier League, I could retire and I’d be happy.”

Amid the romance, though, is a pang of dread as you realise Adomah’s contract is due to be up at the end of the season. Not again, surely…

“I’m willing that QPR won’t let me down, ” he says. “I’m trusting they’d help me out. I’m sure my boyhood club won’t let me down.”

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