Simon Adingra makes Amex return after AFCON win

Winger gets a hero's welcome back to Brighton.

16 February 2024

By Paul Hazlewood
Simon Adingra back at the Amex on Friday where he got a hero's welcome at the club's open training session.

Simon Adingra is looking forward to reproducing the form that won him two prestigious awards at the Africa Cup of Nations when he returns to Albion duty.

The 22-year-old won the young player of the tournament and was named man of the match in last Sunday’s final, when the hosts Ivory Coast came from behind to beat Nigeria 2-1 in the final with Adingra claiming assists for both goals.

Two days later, Simon and his teammates paraded the trophy in front of hundreds of thousands of fans in the country's largest city Abidjan.

He arrived back in Sussex on Friday and headed to the Amex, where hundreds of fans welcomed him back at Open Training after his Albion teammates and coaching staff including Roberto De Zerbi formed a guard of honour.

“The plan now is to hopefully win trophies and be successful for Brighton, that is my focus,” he said. “I have to keep going and it’s great that more people know about me because of [my success at] AFCON.”

Reflecting on the tournament, Simon admitted there had been highs and lows.

A couple of days before the squad was announced in December he went off with a hamstring injury during the 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace.

“I was worried,” he admitted. “I was injured and I didn’t think the coach would call me but he trusted me and as soon as I was ready he was put in the team.”

The hosts’ involvement nearly ended at the group stage after a 4-0 defeat against Equatorial Guinea when Adingra had his first involvement in the tournament as a late substitute. They only qualified for the knockout stages as one of the four highest-ranked countries who finished third and Manager Jean-Louis Gasset was sacked and replaced by Emerse Fae.

By Paul Hazlewood
Simon's teammates and the coaching staff formed a guard of honour.

The team – and Adingra – didn’t look back. He equalised late on in the 2-1 quarter-final win against Mali before playing 80 minutes of the semi-final victory against Democratic Republic of Congo which the hosts won 1-0.

“I feel really happy to have won the player of the match and young player of the tournament, and in my home country as well. It was very special," he added.

“The atmosphere during the tournament was crazy, it’s the best moment of my career so far. It means a lot for us to win the trophy. We were almost out of the tournament but we managed to come back.

“It was amazing to make so many people happy, when we showed off the trophy. My mum and sister were there, it was very special.”