They were already singing his name during the warm-up and they were still singing it when he was substituted in the second half. When Taiwo Awoniyi played for the very last time in the stadium at the Alte Försterei, he was celebrated as if he were still a 1. FC Union player.
But he hasn’t been for a month. The Nigerian striker wore the yellow and blue away shirt of his new employer Nottingham Forest in Saturday’s friendly. In his two years at Union, however, Awoniyi has become something of a club legend with 25 goals in 56 games and he received an emotional farewell before kick-off.
“I will miss everyone here, it was a very special time for me here,” said Awoniyi. “But I’m convinced that Union will have a good season in the Europa League and the Bundesliga.”
In the 90 minutes that followed, in front of 15,467 fans, they showed that the Köpenicker Awoniyis departure might be able to cope.
With the 1-0 win against the newly promoted Premier League, Union showed itself ready in the last friendly before the start of the season. Ready for a second year in international business, but also ready for the upcoming derby against Hertha BSC, who lost to Nottingham on Wednesday.
Union was much more dangerous than the guests, especially in the first ten minutes. In the 36th minute, the hosts took the lead through Awoniyi’s replacement, Jordan Siebatcheu. After a mistake in England’s build-up game, the alert Sheraldo Becker was able to cross to the US international, who scored his first goal in Union dress.
Shortly after, Awoniyi almost scored his first goal for Forest, but fired just wide of the far post from close range. So Union went into the break with a deserved lead.
When Awoniyi walked off to applause in the 70th minute, it could have been 2-0. Both Siebatcheu and Kevin Behrens had missed great chances in the meantime.
Tim Starke also had the second goal in sight in the final stages, but only forced a good save from Forest goalkeeper Dean Henderson.
“You see Hertha, that’s how it’s done,” sang the Union fans on the forest side after the final whistle. Captain Christopher Trimmel was a bit too euphoric: “We’re not thinking about the derby yet, just the cup game against Chemnitz.”