Battling from the front, he formed dangerous partnerships with David Omilabu and Jesurun Rak-Sakyi, his strength holding up the ball and playing with his back to goal complemented by the technical ability to bring others into play.
Akinwale began his career as a winger, predominantly on the left-hand side, but made the switch to centre-forward at youth level – mirroring the switch made by his footballing idol, Cristiano Ronaldo. He has revealed that he has sought advice from Palace’s own Jordan Ayew throughout his development.
His nine goals in 2020/21 were crucial in Palace’s breakthrough debut season at Category 1 level, including an early winner at Chelsea that set the precedent for their season. His performances were recognised by Shaun Derry, who rewarded Akinwale with minutes at Under-23s level.
Akinwale's sustained form for the Under-18s and efforts with the U23s earned him a call-up to England Under-18s in November 2021. He finished the 21/22 campaign with 27 goals to his name across all competitions, beating a target set by fellow Academy forward David Omilabu.
“I had a target of reaching 25 goals in all competitions and thankfully I got 27,” the Crystal Palace striker says, looking back on a highlight-laden 21/22 season in which he finished top scorer of the Under-18 Premier League south. “I wanted to be top scorer in my league as well."
His record-breaking performances for the U18s earned him a place in the 2022/23 pre-season squad which travelled to Singapore and Australia.