Liverpool Lender Taiwo Awoniyi says he’s grateful to be alive after a head clash left him unconscious and left with a concussion in Mainz’s Bundesliga home game against FC Augsburg earlier this month -this.
The Nigerian, on loan at Mainz since last August, faced Augsburg defender Felix Udoakhai 17 minutes into the game and lost consciousness before touching the ground.
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In his first interview since the incident, the 22-year-old told ESPN luck played a huge role in saving his life, according to his doctors.
“The doctor told me it was really strange,” Awoniyi said. “They said the way I was going down I should [have gone] down with my head. If I had come down directly with my head, that would have been a different story.
“They said they were surprised because I was already [passed] in the air but I was lucky that the first thing that happened was my feet touching the ground, then my shoulder too, before my head.
“They said that made it less problematic because if I had landed straight with my head it would have been a different story.”
Awoniyi said the time between fetching the balloon and waking up from the hospital was a black hole, although he apparently insisted he was fine, demonstrating the need for strict protocols. for head injuries.
He added: “The doctor told me I was talking on the pitch but I didn’t know I was talking. He said when I tried to wake up I told them everything was fine and I still wanted to play. .
“But I didn’t know I was saying that. I don’t remember.
“When we got to the hospital before I regained consciousness, they lifted me up and that’s when I realized I was no longer in the field.”
Dr Babatunde Akinbinu, a member of the Nigerian Football Federation’s sports medical committee, agrees with the chance of the fall, telling ESPN that head injuries can be fatal.
Dr Akinbinu said: “He suffered a concussion and, yes, he could have been in danger of death because a head injury can be more than a concussion. You can’t tell until you take care of yourself. of the patient.
“Since a concussion often results from trauma to the head / whole body often causing transient brain injury, or stroke if you prefer, it can lead to hallucinatory changes in the affected person.”
Arbitrator Marco Fritz’s quick reaction added to Awoniyi’s good fortune, Dr Akinbinu said, “Well, the first rule of thumb for any unconscious patient is to make sure the patient’s airways are free.
“The referee assured him. He did his best, especially since the team’s paramedics and medical unit were only seconds away.”
Akinbinu said those few seconds could have saved Awoniyi’s life, and the player himself was grateful enough to call for the ref after.
“Most of the players weren’t even aware of what had happened and he was the one who was [aware] and came to my rescue, ”Awoniyi said.
“For me there are a lot of things that I see that amaze me, but when I saw this picture it really touched me and I was like, ‘Is it me?’
“Honestly, I have to congratulate the ref. I had to text him and call him because when I saw the picture of what he did, it was really like a saving hand.
“He said he was also happy that I’m alive and well and looking forward to seeing me next season if I’m still there.”
Upon returning home, Awoniyi’s family was in a completely normal state: “For my wife, it was something that I cannot explain. My agent kept calling her because of she was alone in the house watching the game.
“My family, mom and dad were crying and I had to call them immediately. I regained consciousness to tell them everything was okay before they thought I was okay.
“It was a really scary experience. My dad tried to be strong. He said he was praying for everything to be okay, but when my brother started crying he couldn’t hold it back so he started. to cry too. And then my mom joined in. “
Fortunately, the situation was not as bad as initially thought and Awoniyi was only kept for one night before being fired. As a precaution, he was kept off the pitch for Mainz’s last two games of the season.
The player added: “The medics told me I can play after seven days. They also said it was up to me, but the team advised me to relax a bit as we are in the shelter of relegation.
“They asked me if I wanted to play but they said the doctor told me not to play for a while because it is a new experience. That was the medical advice given but I was given said I could play if I wanted to. “
Of course, the messages of goodwill were not long in coming. Mainz dedicated their next victory to him and even Augsburg and their Nigerian-born defender Udoakhai stepped in.
“He messaged me to get well soon and the whole team also sent me an apology and wished me a speedy recovery,” Awoniyi said.
“He also told me that we are like family and it’s just unfortunate. He said he hopes I’m okay and told me he’s also a Nigerian like me – and I told him said I knew about it and we agree. “
Awoniyi was expected to receive further encouraging news with his parent club Liverpool winning their first title in 30 years.
“They just prove that they are the best family,” he said. “What club !”
With his loan ended, the striker intends to return to Anfield to work out his future, with a view to clinching his first cap with the Premier League champions: “The season is over now. I will have a meeting with my parent club with my agent and I’ll see what happens next season. “