A former striker who has a rich list of North West Counties League teams to his name decided to make the decision to retire from playing football last year to take up running full time.

After 18 years of playing football for clubs in and around Merseyside such as AFC Liverpool and Ashton Town, Emini Adegbenro decided it was time to hang up the football boots and bring out the running trainers.

He said: “After retiring from football at the end of last year, it’s now just running 24/7.

“I did cross country in school so always knew I could run and I just got into it much more now because of the buzz it gives me, the ability to meet new people from all backgrounds and just the physical nature of it.”

Adegbenro is part of 2-Step Collective, a running club at the heart of Liverpool which enables people of all ages and backgrounds to come together and begin or further their fitness journey.

The club which has been running for more than three years meet on Wednesdays at 6.30pm at Lost Art Shop on Brick Street in Liverpool.

He said: “I stay motivated by pretty much living off the buzz I get from running. I am very much interested in how my fellow runners are getting on and I help a few of them with their plans, training and advice so this helps keep me disciplined and accountable in what I do.”

2-Step Collective
2-Step Collective group image via Instagram @2stepcollective

Talking on the benefits of getting into running, the former footballer said: “First and foremost, health! I know my body will thank me for it in years to come.

“I also love the camaraderie of running – especially in a the running club. It’s definitely a boost for people’s mental health. Mine has always been strong so not in particular for me but the freedom to just get out there and run is a massive positive.

“Running is good for you, you can meet new people and it can give added purpose or meaning to your life. You won’t know how much it can benefit you until you have actually tried it.

“The buzz you get after completing a run is unreal and it only gets better. Even the bad runs, they are just excuses to go and get better.”

With fitness being a major part of ‘Mini’s’ life, the retired Skelmersdale United forward has a set routine to fit around his busy life that allows him to progress and reach his goals.

“I run four to five times a week with easy and interval runs during the weekdays,” he said.

“I tend to get up at 5am to get my runs in before the family wake up and then on a Saturday and Sunday, it’s my long run day.”

Adegbenro has taken part in multiple running events but one achievement stands out from the rest.

He said: “My biggest achievement is probably my first sub three hour marathon. I got it in Valencia in December 2023 and it was my fourth marathon at the time.

“Training for it was brilliant and although the execution wasn’t perfect, it was enough to get me over the line so it was something special.”

Emini still has a lot he wants to achieve in the sport, saying: “Future goals are to compete in the six major marathons (Tokyo, Boston, London, New York, Berlin and Chicago) and get sub three hours in all of them.

“My first chance is the London Marathon in ten weeks time and somehow I want to get them all.”