For the past six years, Taiwo Awoniyi tried to fulfill his dream of playing at Liverpool football club but failed to fulfill it until Tuesday, July 20, 2021, when the dream was finally put to rest.
The 23-year-old Nigerian football star joined Liverpool on August 31, 2015, from a Nigerian-based football academy, Imperial Soccer Academy for a transfer fee worth €1.10 million.
Taiwo Awoniyi signed for the Premier League club after his outstanding performance in the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup which he helped Nigeria to win. Two years later, he helped Nigeria to win African Under-20 Championship.
The arrival of the center-forward in the United Kingdom did not go as planned as he failed to get a work permit. The easiest way he would have gotten the work permit was to play in Nigeria’s senior national team but then, the national team had two prolific strikers – Odion Ighalo and Victor Osimhen who the team could not sacrifice for him.
Hence, he had to move from club to club on loan while he continued to push for a work permit. During the six years, Taiwo Awoniyi moved to FSV Frankfurt, NEC Nijmegen, Mouscron, Gent, Mainz, and Union Berlin on loan.
After he got married in June 2018, to his compatriot, Taiwo Jesudun, it was certain that the football star would need to find a club to settle down since he could not establish himself at Liverpool.
But Liverpool continued to urge him to be patient until his wife gave birth to his first child in the summer of 2020. With the arrival of a bouncing baby boy named Emanuel, Taiwo Awoniyi had no choice but to sacrifice his dream of playing for Liverpool for his young family.
In his first interview with the official website of Bundesliga after the birth of his son, Awoniyi described his experience as a father as something that comes with a lot of responsibility.
“It’s not quite easy because I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, to be honest! It’s something good, though, because you realize you have more responsibility and it’s a way to show you the opportunity”, he said.
“You need to be responsible in everything you’re doing. You can’t just do anything you want any more, you have to be responsible because back home you know you have your wife and your child waiting for you.
“As they grow up, he wants to know what his dad is doing, what his parents are doing, and for me, it’s an influence to be more responsible. That’s how I see it. It’s more joy because going home and knowing you have someone in him waiting for you at home, your family is growing and everything is going good, it’s something good for me as a person.”
Taiwo Awoniyi takes the bold step for club stability and family
Amidst the lack of club stability and his desire to be more available as a father for his newborn son, Taiwo Awoniyi decided to tell Liverpool that he was ready to leave the club last summer. Then, he was on loan at Union Berlin.
However, Liverpool did not grant his request immediately. He kept on pushing for it until he finally got Liverpool’s nod this summer.
Liverpool sold him permanently to the German Bundesliga side for just £6.5 million which is a good return on investment for Liverpool.
In an interview with ESPN in 2020, Taiwo Awoniyi said he decided to ask Liverpool to let him go because it was becoming difficult for him and his immediate family to keep moving from club to club on loan.
“It’s something really difficult, I must confess”, he said. “I could remember when I was moving from Gent back to Mouscron, I had to pack my stuff in my car, with my wife.
“It was totally difficult and getting to a new environment, meeting different players each year, different system, different atmosphere, it takes a lot from you because what you meet there is totally different from what you meet in the other places.”
At the time of publishing this report, the details of the permanent deal Taiwo Awoniyi signed with Union Berlin were not in the public domain. However, it is estimated that he has been earning over 2.5 million euros per year since he joined the club on loan ahead of the 2020-2021 season.
Awoniyi has his work permit but decided to pitch his tent in Bundesliga
After six years of trying to get his work permit before he can be allowed to play for Liverpool, Taiwo Awoniyi finally got it in May 2021. But then, he has already made up his made to leave Liverpool for Union Berlin on a permanent deal.
This means that if he continues to improve and become a more prolific striker, he could return to the Premier League to play for Liverpool or any other big club in the league.
As for now, his priority is to continue to establish himself more at Union Berlin and continue to be a good father to his son.