Nigeria and Nottingham Forest forward Taiwo Awoniyi, in an exclusive interview with soccernet.ng on Thursday, revealed the highs and lows of last season with the Tricky Trees, and his ambitions for the coming season.
Awoniyi scored 10 goals in 27 Premier League games in the 2022/23 season campaign of which most of the goals came towards the end of the season.
The striker began the interview by sharing how tough it was for them last campaign:
“Well, to be honest it was a tough season. Let’s be honest, it was a season that I’ll always remember in my life because the good thing about life is during those difficult times the question you should ask yourself is ‘what did you do?’
“And for me, during that time really when we were still fighting relegation, even if we were relegated, which I don’t think we should, the question you ask yourself is ‘did I do enough for myself, for my team?’ That’s what I used to tell myself and I think that’s what everyone should do to themselves.”
The Super Eagles player stated that Forests’ fight and survival was not only his making, he reiterated that winning is a collective effort.
“And luckily for us, it’s not only me that fought the team out of relegation because if the ball doesn’t come from the goalkeeper there’s no way I can flick it into the net, so I think it’s a collective effort from the whole team and I must commend the coaches also, how they bring everyone into the spirit of changing the situation. And that’s the sweet part of the story because one day you can look at your son or family and say during those difficult moments I’m proud of being part of this at that point in time.”
The player emphasized the importance of scoring goals as a striker and highlighted his belief in putting his best efforts every game. He also went on to say that the final decision of who comes from the coach and showed his commitment towards contributing to the team’s success, regardless of his role.
“But as a centre forward, the truth about strikers is goals, everyone wants to score, every striker wants to score but for me personally, I’m not the type that wants to score every game but one thing I believe in is every game I want to put in my best and let’s see how the end will help us,” he said.
“For Nottingham Forest, I just have to go back, resume into the preseason and see what will happen. It just depends on the coach, the coach has the final say, they’re the ones that decide who’s on the pitch and who’s not.
Reflecting on how things could go as a player, Awoniyi expressed that not everything has gone his way in recent years. However, he maintained that he always gives his utmost dedication and effort, even when facing challenges behind the scenes. His focus remains on doing his best and avoiding any regrets.
“But for me, as a player, the best you can do for yourself is to keep putting in every effort because the effort will not be in vain. And in the end, if it doesn’t go your way, you can say, ‘Yes, I did my best’, which is what I have always kept in my heart.
“Sometimes, things have not been going my way for the past few years, but even in those times, everyone in the club knows that he has always been doing his best. Many things happen in football, but it is not open to the outside world because this game has many things behind the scenes.
“But the truth about football and the truth about what I say to myself is ‘Just give in your best, let everyone decide what will happen, whether you are good, whether you are not, just give in your best, and that is the best thing you can do for yourself. Don’t put yourself in a position you will regret, and that is it for me, just giving everything, and for Nottingham Forest, it is the same thing I would do in the upcoming Premier League season.”
Nottingham Forest will battle Arsenal in their first Premier League game in August, and Forest fans will hope that Awoniyi produces the performances of last season that saved them from relegation, and going a step further in scoring more than he did last campaign.
What Awoniyi’s performance for Forest would mean for Nigeria
As the coming season begins next month, Awoniyi will be eager to build on his performances of last season for the Forest side. The Super Eagle will be hoping to improve on his contribution tally for his club and go a step further to achieving more personal records.
With the 2023 AFCON edging closer as the days go by, his performances will be needed for the Nigerian team and how far they progress in the competition in Cote D’Ivoire. With much of the goalscoring burden left on Osimhen, Awoniyi can step up when needed to get the goals for Nigeria who’re aiming to bring home their fourth AFCON title as the competition gets underway early next year.
This article was most recently revised and updated 35 seconds ago
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