Rising FC defender Tobi Adewole: Phoenix was a no-brainer for me

Dec 1, 2020, 2:04 PM | Updated: Dec 2, 2020, 12:52 pm
(Instagram photo/@TobiAdewole2)...
(Instagram photo/@TobiAdewole2)
(Instagram photo/@TobiAdewole2)

Phoenix Rising FC made its first new signing of the offseason on Tuesday in center back Tobi Adewole.

The 25-year-old was signed as a free agent after his former side Saint Louis FC folded following the club’s 2-0 defeat to Louisville City FC in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

But for Adewole, the decision to come to Phoenix took very little cerebral effort.

“I’ve been in the East my whole career and I haven’t really gotten a taste of what the West feels like,” Adewole said.

“Phoenix is the biggest club out there so I just wanted the opportunity to play for a big club like Phoenix out in the West, so it was a no-brainer for me.”

And when it comes to what else the center back is looking forward to in the Western Conference, Adewole mentioned more grass fields, bigger pitches, a freer style of play and the weather.

Adewole added that he is a unique player in that he can adapt to whatever manager Rick Schantz will ask of him, while also having his own perspective and style on the beautiful game.

“I like to take a little bit from every center back that I’ve watched throughout and just take their best attributes and kind of put that into my game,” he said. “I can change my style of play however the coach wants and however the team needs me to be, so I’m very versatile in that respect.”

The defender added that although center back is his key position, he can play anywhere on the backline and can even play as a holding midfielder.

“I do think I’m good on the ball, so wherever the team needs me the most,” Adewole said. “But my strongest position and my No. 1 is center back.”

And after two seasons that saw Corey Whelan — who has since returned to England — play nearly every one of the aforementioned positions, Adewole’s versatility will be paramount for Schantz’s strategy going forward.

Adewole also boasts three straight seasons of postseason experience with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (2018-19) and Saint Louis.

But unfortunately for PRFC’s newest signee, his fate has been the same as his new club, as both have yet to lift a USL Championship Final trophy.

“It’s never an easy feat to achieve, so every year that I have achieved it, it’s always been a great deal,” Adewole said of making the playoffs. “My mentality is always winning. I have a very winning mentality by all means necessary.

“I’ll do whatever I can to help my team to get to that next level and the level beyond that which is hopefully winning the whole thing. Unfortunately I’ve fallen short the past three times I’ve been in the playoffs, so hoping it’ll be working on getting beyond that hump.”

Adewole — who was born in Maryland to Nigerian parents — and Phoenix Rising won’t be able to get to work just yet, as the club only has 10 players currently on its roster and the newest signee will be staying in Maryland through the holidays at least.

“I get the best of both worlds because I was born here but both my parents are from Nigeria, so my siblings and I have been raised in a Nigerian household,” he said.

“So I’ve gotten the best of both cultures and I’m grateful for the Nigerian heritage I have. I’m a proud Nigerian. … I have Nigerian blood running through me in and out.”

And with the start of the 2021 campaign expected to start closer to April or May, PRFC’s usual preseason will be starting about a month later than the normal January start.

“I’m a 100% type of guy, so as soon as I step on the field, I give it my all until the final whistle blows,” Adewole said. “I can’t wait to win trophies and get it started.”

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