The former Liverpool attacker was moving round clubs just two years ago, as he tried to find a footing in the difficult and unpredictable terrain of European football
As the world went on a lockdown and nations closed borders, markets closed shops and workers had to operate from home, football couldn’t stay on being in such arrangements. Fans didn’t only miss the game, football clubs were losing money and the ecosystem suffered a dip.
Germany was one of the countries which gathered its acts early to set protocol and models for a return to football. The Bundesliga came back and hostilities soon resumed.
Up until that point of the lockdown, Taiwo Awoniyi had hardly gotten minutes at FC Mainz. How he wasn’t a part of the team was a mystery he never understood, but the lockdown, for all its disadvantages, came with its perks. He had opportunities to play again in front of empty seats and simulated fans chants.
In a game against Augsburg, Awoniyi, ever willing to stick it in and fight for every ball, went in the air with Felix Uduokhai, a German defender of Nigerian roots, and what happened afterwards was a miracle.
Awoniyi slumped and tragedy was just at the tip, but for the timely and angelic intervention of referee Marco Fritz. He was kept stable and taken to the hospital, where he regained consciousness and stability. That moment would go on to mean everything to a career that had hardly sparked up until that point.
Awoniyi’s performance in his final days at Mainz would go on to convince Union Berlin of going for the attacker on loan.
After good displays at the capital, he was signed permanently for £6.5m from Liverpool and that’s the beginning of the story that has birthed a beautiful song.
This season, the attacker has become the first player in the history of Union Berlin to score 13 goals in the Bundesliga. While the number may not be huge relatively, it’s enough to get the fans of the club singing for their cult hero.
In an exclusive interview with Soccernet, Awoniyi revealed how emotional he gets when he hears the fans sing his name.
This time, it’s not simulated voices. They’re real, loving and passionate.
”Taiwo Awoniyi!!! Taiwo Awoniyi tra la la la” the fans sing.
Read More: Awoniyi talks Liverpool disappointment
A visibly elated Awoniyi, with a mixture of laughter and unbridled emotion strewn on his face said it gives him a special feeling.
“To be honest, I think every time they do that… I’ve been in situations where I miss chances and they still sing that song for me and right now I feel really emotional because it’s something special,” he said.
“They’ve done it when I scored, they’ve done it when I’m not scoring and it tells me how much they appreciate not only me, they sing it for Endo also. They sing it for the whole team also.”
Although Awoniyi may be heading out of the club at the end of the season, with a Premier League move on the cards, he appreciates what the fans are doing and hopes to always put a smile on their face.
“It shows how dedicated they’re as fans and like I’ve always said, the best you can do for them is to keep on doing the work, make them happy also. I really appreciate what they’re doing.”