Nigeria and Nottingham Forest striker Taiwo Awoniyi has revealed the interesting circumstance that set him on the path to becoming a footballer.
In an interview with Osasu Obayiuwana, Awoniyi, who was born in Ilorin – north-central Nigeria – said he was on his way to pay for his university exams but couldn’t because the person who was meant to register him wasn’t available.
“My dad actually borrowed the money to pay for my exams,” Awoniyi, 26, says. “I went to the person that was supposed to help register me for the exam in the morning and he was not around. I went there again in the evening and they told me he still wasn’t around.
“It was on my way back from that trip that I got a call from the Imperial Soccer Academy [in Nigeria’s Ogun State], that they wanted me. I went back to my dad and said: ‘I do want to keep on going to school. But my passion is football, so let me use this money to get myself down to the academy.’ I think that was the turning point for me.”
Awoniyi had been with the Unicorn Football Academy in Ilorin since he was “six or seven” and played for Nigeria as a 14-year-old at the Copa Coca-Cola Cup, a tournament for African teams, in London in 2011. A call-up to the Golden Eaglets, Nigeria’s Under-17 side, that won the 2013 World Cup in the UAE, earned the opportunity he had dreamed of – a five-year contract with Liverpool in 2015.
Since then, he’s played across Europe, including a successful stint at Union Berlin in Germany. Last year, he signed for EPL side Nottingham Forest on a 5-year deal.
He made his debut for Nigeria in October 2021 and has made six appearances for the Super Eagles since then.