Nigeria and FC Union Berlin forward, Taiwo Awoniyi said he was mocked by his neighbours for not being able to secure a deal after the world cup despite his performance at the FIFA U-17 in 2013.
The 23-year-old revealed that he had pressures from his neighbours back in his hometown after returning from the tournament and deals were yet to fall through for him.
Awoniyi had a super-performance at the tournament grabbing four goals and emerging champions with the Nigerian cadet side at the time.
“My family and I became a laughing stock,” – Awoniyi said on Footballers Connect Instagram Live chat.
“I could remember vividly when we returned to Nigeria, my brother and I heard people on my street were saying, I have played in the world cup, yet I was unable to get a club.
“The pressure got to my brother Victor Awoniyi, and he kept asking me what was happening all the time. It was a tough moment for I and my family, but we are glad our expectations finally came through.
Unknown to his neighbours, Taiwo was being courted by some clubs but were yet to materialize coupled with the fact that he had to make a choice.
“After playing at the U-17, I heard Liverpool was interested in me but nothing happened for a while. I got promoted to the U-20. I had played for the U-23 in an Olympic Games qualifier against Zambia where I scored two goals, I was preparing to join another team in France then. We returned to Nigeria, and I went back to our Coach, Samson Siasia to inform him that I needed to travel.
“I was anxious because I had really waited for the opportunity to sign my first professional contract. On my way to the embassy I got a call from Seyi Olofinjana that Liverpool FC had contacted him on my matter. I was surprised because he also asked me to return home and wait for the Liverpool.
“The discussions went good, and it was then a decision between leaving for France or England. It was a similar offer but I settled for Liverpool,” he concluded.
Taiwo Awoniyi signed for the English club, Liverpool FC, for a fee of around £400,000 but was immediately loaned out to FSV Frankfurt. He moved to NEC in the Eredivise; Royal Excel Mouscron and Gent in Belgium before returning to Germany where he featured for Mainz.
He netted his first league goal of the Bundesliga season against Koln last weekend in a game that ended 1-2 in favour of his side.