The marks of a good footballer aren’t just physical attributes but mental fortitude and resilience.
Make no mistakes about it, behind the jubilation of Taiwo Awoniyi last weekend after scoring in the league match against Cologne is a man going through a very tough time in his once promising career.
Watching the match, I hadn’t expected him to be introduced. Do you blame me? He was not even in the match day squad for the club’s last 9 matches amidst speculations that Liverpool were thinking of ending his fruitless stay in Mainz.
But there he was on the bench and subsequently introduced around 64 minutes to stab home a precious goal which brought life back for his team who had been lagging behind by 2 goals at that point.
Awoniyi looked sharp and crisp, very much the part, very much keen to prove to himself, his fans and neutral observers that he is still open for business; the business of scoring goals. This is a telling affirmation of his willingness to plough on in the face of limited opportunities and dwindling fortunes in a club where he has found it difficult, if not impossible, to make any meaningful mark towards advancing his club career to where it ought to be.
Having been alive to the challenges the young man is facing in this club at the moment, his coach – according to local online media – was quoted as saying: “In the internal tests, he produced a sensational performance.” End of quote.
And that much is true. Taiwo Awoniyi has to continue to churn out sensational internal performances within himself to stay strong, stay focused and continue to fortify his resilience. Surely, his due season will come.
For his efforts last week, Awoniyi was rated 7 of 10 in a performance that saw him grab the headlines for all the right reasons. He had 2 attempts at goal and successfully completed 9 passes. He flirted around from centre forward to the right wing in a fashion reminiscent of Jurgen Klopp’s approach at Liverpool.
The 2013 under 17 world cup hero, who has featured in 7 out of 26 games for Mainz thus far this season, will be hoping to build up on last week’s performance if he is selected or introduced against RB Leipzig tomorrow in a match that could see him come face to face with another Super Eagles hopeful Ademola Lookman.
Now, that would be fascinating to see!