Duro Ikhazuagbe with agency report
Taiwo Awoniyi has revealed why he left Liverpool after six years without playing competitive game for the Reds.
Speaking before his Nottingham Forest got beaten 3-0 at Anfield yesterday, the Super Eagles forward who is just returning from a groin injury admitted that after training with the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, he realised he may not be able to displace any of the top stars for a place in Liverpool ‘s starting 1X.
This perhaps was responsible for why Liverpool transferred him to Union Berlin in a £6.5m permanent deal in July 2021, following a succession of loans in Germany, Holland and Belgium.
Awoniyi told Liverpoolecho.co.uk yesterday that his brief stint at Liverpool made him the professional footballer he is today.
He remains grateful for the role the club played in his career despite never making any appearance during his time at Liverpool.
“For me, going through all those clubs and all those stages, it was all with the aim of one day being back in the Premier League,” he said. “I think in the end it was worth it, but I can say it was a tough journey.
“Liverpool, I always say, is a family club. You develop as a person as well as a footballer, and I give so much credit to Liverpool for the way they looked after me, all the time I was away. I’m forever grateful for that.
“It was an important period, really good for me, and it was a big reason I was able to develop into the player and the person I have.”
While Awoniyi was unable to play competitively for Liverpool, he did train with the first team and was part of the squad that went to Austria for pre-season training in the summer of 2021 prior to his permanent exit.
Interestingly, the 26-year-old Nigerian international after scoring 20 goals in 43 appearances for the German Bundesliga side Union Berlin, got snapped in a £17million deal by newly-promoted Nottingham Forest for him to realise his dream of playing in the English Premier League.
Awoniyi actually scored the winner for Forest against the Reds at the City Ground last October, before making his first appearance at Anfield as Jurgen Klopp’s side ran out 3-2 winners back in April.
That outing was a dream come true for the FIFA U17 World Cup winner with Nigeria who was denied work permit during his six years at Liverpool.
But looking back on the defeat, Awoniyi admits he felt mixed emotions facing his former club.
“Last season playing at Anfield was a dream come true,” he said. “Of course I probably dreamed of playing there for Liverpool before I left, so playing there against them, it was a mixed feeling, I would say.”
Awoniyi started the season in a rich vein of form, scoring in each of Steve Cooper’s first three games of the campaign before recording back-to-back assists. Such a run was just a continuation from the end of last season, having returned six goals and an assist from Forest’s final six games of the campaign to help secure their Premier League survival.
Now that he’s back from the groin injury he picked playing for Nigeria at the last FIFA window, Awoniyi’s season may just be starting all over again to help Forest get away from their present 16th spot in the English topflight.