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Awoniyi: It was difficult to grow up in Nigeria but I am grateful to my parents

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The 24-year-old forward discusses his rise from the West African nation to Europe where he is currently scoring goals

Union Berlin forward Taiwo Awoniyi has explained the difficulties he faced while growing up in Nigeria and how he ended up moving to Europe.

The 24-year-old Nigerian star is currently featuring for the Bundesliga side after sealing a permanent transfer from Premier League side Liverpool in the summer window.

Awoniyi has detailed how difficult it was for him to get money to buy playing boots and even getting money to eat and further said he loves Nigeria as a country by stating: “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 when asked about growing up in Nigeria.

“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.”

On leaving Nigeria to play in Europe, Awoniyi said: “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.

“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.”

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Asked if he still goes back to Nigeria, the former Liverpool star said: “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.”

On whether Nigerians love watching the Bundesliga, he said: “I think Nigeria is a really great football country, with the talent we have. I think they follow every league.

“Nigerian players are all over the world playing in different leagues and for Nigeria, when they see their players playing somewhere, I think they follow it and they look up to the league and everything. But I think it was a good connection.”

Awoniyi has so far scored three goals from three matches after playing only 250 minutes and speaking on his aims for the season, he said: “I always say my target is something personal to me, which I always keep to myself. But for me, the most important thing is the team. So long as the team is winning, I’m happy.”

He will hope to continue with his scoring prowess when Berlin welcomes FC Augsburg at Alte Forsterei Stadium on Saturday.



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