It is very rare for a single human being to unite two totally diverse nations; even temporarily.
Politicians try to do it by creating complicated trading partnerships that largely exist outside the day-to-day existence of its citizens. Royal families tried in the past by marrying their children to form international alliances, which, as in the case of Britain and Germany, sometimes failed spectacularly.
Yet one 22-year-old man from Trinidad and Tobago has accomplished just that. For I guarantee that if you ever travel to Budapest in Hungary, as soon as you announce your nationality you will be greeted by the words “Akeem Adams.”
Such is the power of sport. But the game of football on its own is not enough. As they say, it’s how you play the game that matters. And Akeem did not just play the game well but with a smile on his face.
By all accounts, the supporters of his club, Ferencvaros, took to Akeem immediately. He was no “token black man” in a very white society; the Hungarian club already had several black footballers in its squad.
For those of us who knew Akeem, he was a pleasant, laid back young man; a very good athlete with the potential to be a regular senior international player. His personality endeared him to the people of Budapest and that showed in their reaction to his plight.
People queued to give blood, they purchased tee-shirts and they held vigils at Ferencvaros’ games. The Hungarian media sites carried regular updates and prayers for Akeem and I was personally kept posted by the club and its supporters’ association.
It is safe to say that in Hungary, Akeem was much loved.
I cannot imagine the grief that Akeem’s family is currently enduring but, to them, I say: Be proud.
Not just because Akeem was a wonderful human being; or because he was a gifted footballer. But because he was one of the best ambassadors that Trinidad and Tobago ever produced.
I mean no disrespect but, to many people in Europe, Dwight Yorke is from the Caribbean, Brian Lara is from the West Indies and Nikki Minaj is from America. But Akeem Adams? Boy, he’s from Trinidad and Tobago.
And there will always be a tiny part of the great, ancient city of Budapest that will forever be emotionally linked to Trinidad and Tobago because of Akeem Adams.
How many politicians would love such an epitaph?
If you ever travel to Budapest, tell them you’re from Trinidad and Tobago. I guarantee you will receive a warm welcome in honour of Akeem Adams.
Tribute to Akeem Adams
Ivan Dick, uncle of Akeem Adams:
“He went on his own. This was God’s call. He is at peace now. We wish to thank all of those who offered their support to Akeem and his family. He touched us all in so many ways.”
Ferencvárosi Torna Club statement:
“The Fradi crowd, well-known for its criticism, took Akeem quickly in; he became one of their favourite players. He earned both the supporters’ and professionals’ credit for his tough but clear play. He was solid, serene and played in the spirit of fair play.
“Akeem Adams became an appreciated member of Ferencvárosi Torna Club, who in the future will remember him as a role-model for his serenity, humility and steadfast play.
The Fradi-family will never forget You, Akeem Adams! Rest in peace.”
Rudi Thomas, TTFA executive member:
“I join the rest of Trinidad and Tobago in saying farewell to Akeem and may his final rest with his maker be gratifying… He came from a noted Point Fortin football family—the Dicks. His uncles played on teams I served on as manager of Trintoc Football Club and one of them was a Civic Centre goalkeeper.
“I was more closely involved with him in his earlier years; he being a product of the SFA Youth Development Programme, which is our Centre For Excellence. He was always destined for great things, but He knows best. Rest In Peace, Akeem.”
Raymond Tim Kee, TTFA president:
“No words can fully express our grief and dismay on what has happened. We can only pass on all our thoughts and prayers to his family and hope they will get some strength from the outpouring of love and support from everyone over this period going back to the time that he suffered the heart attack some months ago.
“Everyone in our football fraternity is deeply affected by this. Not only was he a promising and dedicated footballer, but he was also a fine young man.”
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