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Prolific, clinical and consistently delivering when it is crucial and when it is not, Nottingham Forest striker, Taiwo Awoniyi, is in a class of his own in the English Premier League, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
From out of the blues the Nigerian has become the poster boy of the EPL, scoring and creating assists with reckless abandon since the business end of last season.
Signed by Liverpool in 2015 and endured six loan spells without a competitive game for the English giants, until he was sold in 2021, the Ilorin-born striker must be beaming with a smile and surely thanking God for grace over his life as he continues to rub shoulders with the prolific strikers in the English Premier League.
Signs that he was in England for business were evident immediately he joined Nottingham Forest from German side Union Berlin, where he was initially loaned to by the Reds, before he sealed a permanent move.
He had notched 25 goals in 65 games for the mid-table Bundesliga side in two seasons, his strikes firing them to historic Europa Conference League in the process.
Many felt the physical nature of the English game might affect his goals, but after he wrecked his former club Liverpool, in just his third start, they realised a lethal assassin had just found his way into England from Germany.
Awoniyi gave Forest a 55th-minute goal after Steve Cook did well to collect the ball from a diagonal free-kick and delivered a low cross into the box. Initially, the Nigerian turned the ball against the post, but on the second attempt, he found the back of the net with the rebound.
The scenes of celebration at full time by the home fans were extraordinary, belief renewed that Forest could really enjoy rather than merely endure their return to the Premier League.
Consequently, Awoniyi became the first Forest player to score in each of his first three Premier League starts at the City Ground.
Picking it up from where he stopped last term, Awoniyi has been making the headlines for Steve Cooper’s side since the start of this season and on Monday, the barrel-chested forward was on hand to rescue the Tricky Trees again at the City Ground, providing the assist for Callum Hudson-Odoi’s equaliser in their 1-1 draw against Vincent Kompany’s newly-promoted Burnley side.
It was his second assist in his last nine Premier League games, but it also meant the Nigerian had now scored or assisted in each of his last nine Premier League appearances, an amazing record, as only Mohamed Salah (13) has been involved in more Premier League goals than Awoniyi (11) since the start of May 2023.
More noteworthy is that he delivers even against the big teams in the EPL having scored against Arsenal, his former club Liverpool, Chelsea and recently Manchester United. The only top-six sides he is yet to score against are Manchester City, Tottenham and safe to say Newcastle, who just made the top-four last season.
After scoring a beautiful solo goal against United at Old Trafford on August 27, the Nigerian striker broke a 28-year Nottingham Forest record by scoring in seven consecutive Premier League games, surpassing Stan Collymore.
He also joined Salah and Emmanuel Adebayor as the three African players to score in seven straight games in the EPL. Currently, he holds the record as the Nigerian player to have scored in six consecutive games in the English topflight, surpassing Osaze Odemwingie, who previously held the record of five consecutive games.
The 26-year-old has no doubt been on song this season, and he was deservedly rewarded with Forest’s player and goal of the month awards for August to underline his importance for the Tricky Trees. He was also up for the EPL Player of the Month Award for August which was won by Tottenham Hotspurs James Maddison.
Indeed, a divine signing for Forest and with all the attributes of an assassin on the field — he is ruthless in front of goal – even when half fit, his movement on the pitch is stealthy, he times his runs perfectly, he is focused, deadly, determined and very professional in his dealings on the pitch as well.
Awoniyi’s heroics at the City Ground dates back to the end of last season and as they strived to stay afloat in the league this season, their fans can’t easily forget how he propelled Forest out of the relegation zone, scoring six times across their final four matches – including the solitary goal in a win over Arsenal – and served as the focal point as a late purple patch did enough to scurry the club away from danger and record a 16th-place finish, four points above relegated Leicester City.
He has since become one of their own and they have a song for him.
Awoniyi’s rising profile in the EPL is typical of a player who is steadily reminded of being a player that doesn’t look like the real deal until he is the real deal and he has always responded with a wide smile which expresses the pleasure he derives from being underrated.
At national team level, he notched his second goal in seven appearance for the Super Eagles penultimate Sunday, in an AFCON qualifying 6-0 win against Sao Tome and Principe in Uyo.
After his partnership with Napoli marksman, Victor Osimhen, for the first time, fans are already clamouring for the duo as their preferred choice choice in attack.
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