14. Ade Akinbiyi (1996-1998)

Ade Akinbiyi was just what the doctor ordered when he arrived at Priestfield halfway through the 96-97 season.  The Gills had slipped into the relegation zone and something needed to be done.  After protracted negotiations Akinbiyi arrived from Norwich City for £250,000.  He was big, powerful and fast, but he also had a reputation amongst Norwich fans for being, well, rather crap actually.

Ade was an instant hit, scoring with a blistering shot on his home debut against Plymouth.  He was lethal, or would have been except his final touch and control could be suspect.  Nevertheless he inspired the Gills to a superb second half of the season.

The following season saw the mantle of goal maker and taker fall on the broad shoulders of Ade.  He did his best, chasing lost causes, harrying hapless defenders and generally causing mayhem.  He often made chances for himself and took them, even difficult ones, with confidence.  What really let him down was his close-range finishing.

Arguably his finest moments in a Gills shirt came at Watford and then at home to Fulham.  His coolness when faced with one-on-ones with the keeper exemplified by his goals.

He left for Bristol City in the summer for £1.2million.  It wasn’t a surprise and the money was wisely invested in Taylor and Asaba.

68 apps, 29 goals


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