Sunday Sep 12, 2021. 10:00
Former Nigeria under-23 international Taiwo Awoniyi has opened up about the difficulties he faced while growing up in Nigeria.
The 24-year-old striker recently rejoined German side Union Berlin on a permanent deal from English giants Liverpool FC in a transfer worth £6.5 million.
Awoniyi, who has impressively netted three goals in four matches in the Bundesliga this season, disclosed that it was difficult for him to get money to buy playing boots and food as a child.
“I always go back because there’s no place like home. I always said it’s difficult to go into detail but it was really difficult, let me just put it that way,” Awoniyi told Bundesliga.com.
“Football is like a lifeline for my family because it changed a lot of things. Getting the money to buy football shoes, getting the money to eat sometimes is quite difficult,
“But my parents were able to send everyone to school which is the most important thing to be able to do. I’m very grateful to them for it, but it was not an easy journey, to be honest.”
In August 2015, Awoniyi signed for Liverpool from Nigeria-based Imperial Soccer Academy for a fee of around £400,000.
“Yeah, I’ve always loved to play football. I started football really quite early. I went to school also but my goal was always football, football, football,” he continued.
“So when I had the chance to come into the national team, I realised this is something I wanted to do and when I had the chance to get signed by Liverpool, I couldn’t say no. It was a dream come true for me because it has always been what I wanted – to play football all my life.”
“Every time I have the opportunity to go back, because my parents are there, my brothers and sisters, I always go back because there’s no place like home like they always say.”
Awoniyi represented Nigeria at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup and went on to win the tournament, scoring four goals during the competition.
The bulky striker also represented Nigeria at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand after winning the 2015 African U-20 Championship in Senegal.
He also scored a brace on his debut for the Nigeria U-23 team in a match against Zambia, as his team went on to qualify for the 2015 All African Games.