Dipo Akinyemi insists he has only one thing on his mind: helping Ayr United to the promise land. 

The Honest Men striker was recently crowned Championship Player of the Year for his stunning performances in helping Lee Bullen’s men to a second-place finish this term. 

They will play Partick Thistle in a two-legged play-off for the course of the next week to determine who takes on the 11th-placed top-flight team for a place in next season’s Premiership.  

Somerset Park hasn’t been a top-division ground since 1978, with Ayr a regular staple among Scotland’s elite prior to their relegation.  

And Akinyemi, who has netted a superb 24 goals and contributed 11 assists this campaign, is determined to get them back there after over 40 years in the lower leagues. 

“This is up there with the highest moments in my career,” the Englishman said upon accepting his PFA POTY award. “Getting it from my fellow professionals is an honour and shows what sort of player I’ve developed into. I’ll cherish it heavily. I’m very happy.  

“Partick are a good team. Now these awards are done, I’ve got one focus: to try and get to the Premiership.  

“My tail’s wagging even more knowing I’m the best player in the league this season. I’m just going into it firing and will try and show it again in the games on live TV.  

“Good players always try and be consistent and show up on the big games. There’s nothing better than the play-offs to show that.  

“I’m going to try and snatch it with two hands. If I score, brilliant. If I assist, brilliant. But as long as we win the game and can push through to the next round then that’s all good with me.  

“I think Ayr can cope with promotion. When the opportunity comes, you just have to try and take it with both hands – whether you are ready or not – because not many people get to play in the Premiership.  

“Not many get the opportunity to try and snatch it, either. As I say, I’m just excited for Friday.” 

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Understandably, the 25-year-old’s standout performances have attracted interest from potential suitors both north and south of the border.  

Ayr are believed to have rejected around £250,000 for Akinyemi in January earlier this year, thus showing how highly they value their talisman. 

There’s no doubt that bigger clubs will come calling with more money this summer. Until then though, the player is doing his best to ignore any transfer speculation regarding his future, with his contract set to run until the summer of 2024 in Ayrshire. 

He said: “It’s speculation, isn’t it? I'm an Ayr United player until anything has been set in stone or agreed upon.   

“Until I’m told any different, I’ll be putting my heart out on the pitch for the team. That’s literally it.” 

It’s hard to believe judging by his swagger on the pitch, but Akinyemi insists it wasn’t easy at first as he initially got used to plying his trade in Scotland

And he owes a lot to Ayr gaffer Bullen, who has helped him immensely along the way. He added: “It wasn’t easy. I’ve said before that I had to work my backside off to get here. Now I’m here I had to say I wasn’t going back to playing non-league.  

“I play like it’s my last game or I’ve got a point to prove. And I did have a point to prove for myself, for my family.   

“Coming up here, I haven’t seen much of my friends and family all season. Coming to the end now, though, it’s all worth it.  

“He’s just given me a platform to play. When I came in, there weren’t too many demands. He just told me to go and show people why I’d come up here.  

“I did well playing non-league last year and I earned this chance up here. I have a lot of focus. Football is a short career, so things like this can happen when you put in the right work.”