The Union Berlin star scored his first senior international career goal in Nigeria’s 3-1 win over Sudan in their Group D Africa Cup of Nations encounter
Taiwo Awoniyi’s senior international career is finally up and running after he scored his first goal in his third appearance.
Awoniyi scored the second goal in the Super Eagles 3-1 win over Sudan in their 2021 AFCON clash on Saturday evening.
The 23-year-old’s goal came in fortunate circumstances, but he will not care. It is the least Awoniyi deserved after overcoming many challenges to get to this stage.
Taiwo Awoniyi came to public consciousness in 2013, when he and the rest of Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets team took the world by storm to win the FIFA U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
While Kelechi Iheanacho was the golden boy of that team, Awoniyi was the able deputy as his four goals helped Nigeria to her fourth world title at the U-17 level.
Shortly after the tournament, the two players were in high demand, but it was Iheanacho that secured a move almost immediately, signing for Manchester City in 2014.
Nonetheless, Awoniyi would also get his dream move two years later as he signed for Liverpool.
But he could not feature for the Reds due to his lack of work permit and was loaned to FSV Frankfurt in Germany. It was hoped the move would prepare him when he is finally ready to play for Liverpool, but he never got the chance.
Awoniyi spent six years at Liverpool, but he never made a single appearance for the club, going out on loan to different clubs.
However, he had a disappointing spell at most of these clubs until he went to Union Berlin last season. Although he missed almost all the second half of that campaign, his performance in the first half convinced the Iron Ones to sign him permanently from Liverpool.
And it has proven to be a smart piece of business. The 23-year-old has scored 14 goals and registered three assists in all competitions for Union this season, including nine in 17 Bundesliga games.
It is this form that earned him a first Super Eagles call-up in October under former coach Gernot Rohr. He made his international bow as a substitute in the 1-0 loss to the Central African Republic.
Awoniyi was omitted from the November squad, but he was included in the 28-man team for the AFCON. He was initially not the obvious choice to lead the line, but Victor Osimhen’s withdrawal opened up the opportunity for him.
It is a chance he has taken well. With just three caps to his name, this is just the beginning of a promising international career for Awoniyi.