Awoniyi Thanks Klopp, Work Permit Reason Why I Didn’t Play For Liverpool

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Super Eagles and Nottingham Forest striker Taiwo Awoniyi says he always felt Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp believed in him.

Awoniyi was six years on the books at Liverpool, but never played for the club.

On joining the Reds, he recalled to the Guardian of the United Kingdom: “We discovered that we needed a work permit and to get a permit I needed to play for Nigeria’s first team.

“When I signed, my Nigeria teammate Kelechi Iheanacho got the work permit under the special talent scheme [to join Manchester City]. It was after him that they closed the special talent scheme.

“The only option I had was to keep on going on loan, with the hope that if I do well on loan and I play for the national team, I’ll be able to get the work permit and come back [to Liverpool]. I kept on going on loan. And the national team call-ups still didn’t come, so I didn’t have any other option than to keep on striving.”

“It was really a hard and tough situation.

“I didn’t really play a lot of games [at Frankfurt] … the team was relegated. I then went to Holland [Nijmegen] and that was another strange experience … we also got relegated … I said to myself, about the third year, if I go down again or I don’t make anything happen, I have to think about my football career.

“It was at Mouscron that I really discovered myself, that I saw myself as the player I wanted to be … I scored a goal in my first match and [10] goals with Mouscron that season.”

On Klopp, he added: “I remember my first conversation with the coach. He said: ‘Taiwo, I’ve seen you. I think I can make you who you want to be as a player. But it is your decision to come.’ It was just an amazing club. It is what a football club should be, in terms of the people, the administrators, everything, especially the fans.