Connect with us

Liverpool

I knew I had to leave Liverpool after training with Mohamed Salah

Published

on

Liverpool players pay perfect tribute to Luis Diaz during winger's family kidnap ordeal

Former Liverpool striker Taiwio Awoniyi reflects on his Reds career, his decision to leave Anfield in 2021, and facing his old club with Nottingham Forest

Taiwio Awoniyi is set to miss out on his latest reunion with former club Liverpool when Nottingham Forest travel to Anfield on Sunday.

The Nigeria international started the season in a rich vein of form, scoring in each of the Tricky Trees’ 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.

However, the 26-year-old has missed Forest’s last two games with a groin injury, and could remain sidelined for a further two weeks. Consequently, Steve Cooper will be without the striker’s services this weekend against Liverpool.

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 striker, having never made an appearance during his six years at Liverpool due to not being granted a work permit. But looking back on the defeat, Awoniyi admits he felt mixed emotions facing his former club.

“It’s been a long journey!” he said. “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.”

The Reds would sell Awoniyi to Union Berlin in a £6.5m deal in July 2021, following a succession of loans in Germany, Holland and Belgium. Yet he would spend just one permanent season in the Bundesliga before Forest granted him his Premier League dream.

After scoring 20 goals in 43 appearances for the German outfit, he would complete a £17m move to the newly-promoted side. Now boasting 13 Premier League goals from 32 appearances, Awoniyi has since proven himself to be a prolific striker in the English top-flight.

And while he never made an appearance during his time at Liverpool, he is still grateful to his former club for the role they played in his career rise.

“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 camp that went to Austria for pre-season training in the summer of 2021 prior to his permanent exit.

But despite being granted a taste of what he wanted to achieve with the Reds that summer, working alongside Klopp’s first team squad, he admits training with the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane also helped make him realise it was time to leave the club.

“The training sessions, wow! I knew that this is the kind of training that you win something from!” Awoniyi told Livepoolfc.com. “You don’t train like that and then at the end of the season you get nothing.

“For me as a player, that was the kind of environment I had always wanted. But in life sometimes you have to make tough decisions, and I knew for me that I needed to go and play every week.

“You look at the time, there was Salah, Mane, Firmino and others. I knew the chances (to play) were very, very slim. I knew I needed to get to a place where I was playing every week. It was hard (to leave), but it was a decision I had to make.”

Click to comment
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x