Tayo Saliu, a Nigerian footballer who plies his trade with Malmo FC, Swedish club side, says he rejects food when he does not score during any match he plays in.
In an interview with TheCable, Saliu, who is yet to put on the country’s jersey, opened up on his journey from the nation’s league and why he is called “the lion”.
The beast, as he is fondly referred to by his fans, also spoke, although in comparison, about football in Europe and Nigeria.
The Delta-born player’s performance has earned him the highest goal scorer for his club, having scored 10 goals, claimed 7 assists, and won 2 man of the match awards from 16 appearances in the just concluded 2019/2020 football season in the Scandinavian country.
Please kindly tell us who exactly is Tayo Saliu?
Tayo Saliu is a professional footballer currently playing for Malmo City FC, Sweden, born and grew up in Warri into a family of four, the only male and last of four children.
How exactly did the journey to the top of football started for you?
The journey has never been rosy, a lot of ups and downs, disappointments with minimal encouragements but I have remained focused, knowing what I wanted and gave myself a target and consistently follow the blueprint. I am still not where I wanted but I’m convinced that as long as I continue to follow the plan, I will surely get to play in the highest league and tournaments.
How did you get on the radar of Malmo FC?
I think being in the right place at the right time was the key. It was a perfect time for me to come in and once I had my chance I seized it.
Since you joined the club, you have been scoring fantastic and vital goals. What is the secret to your scoring form?
First of all I love scoring goals, from my childhood when I play a game and I don’t score I may not eat when I get home. Also, I train hard everyday to perfect my finishing and have continued to psych myself that if I can convert half a chance to a goal, then I have done my job as an attacker.
Why were you nicked name the ‘Lion’?
Hahaha! The name lion was gotten from my name Tayo, I was playing a tournament in Ghana few years ago and the fans were so in love with my performance and they were behind the bench so each time my coach tried to pass info to me by calling my name Tayo, the fans actually thought it was Lion, so after the game they came towards me shouting lion, lion. I told them it’s Tayo but you know that’s how my team mates took it up and ever since then, it has been Lion couple with the facts that I am bold and aggressive with a commanding presence on the pitch, I think it’s just a perfect nick name and I always try to live up to it in every game. Needless to say that on arrival to Malmo City FC, the fans have nicknamed me “Beast” because of my style of play which further reinforces what I have become in the field of play.
Many don’t really know who you are while you were still struggling to be a household in Nigerian football, what changed your career to being the player lots of media are interested in suddenly?
After few failed attempts in getting top clubs to sign me and having fallen into the hands of wrong agents and managers. I re-examined my approach when I met the Chairman of Chykap International Football Club who advised me to focus on my performance and work on my lapses to be better than I used to with assurances that my discipline level, hard work, dedication, patience and consistency in doing the right thing will open doors for me at the right time and project my career to stardom. I adopted these values and would say it paid off with success for me.
Can you kindly speak on how you moved to Malmo from Nigeria?
Last year, my team in Nigeria called Chykap International football club, Lagos organised a 10 team scouting tournament and invited some scouts from Europe. I was spotted by an agent from Sweden during the tournament as being exceptional and projected for trials which I attended and got signed to play for Malmo City FC, Sweden.
You have been playing in Sweden for a while now, what can you say about Swedish football?
From my observations I think the league this year was very competitive as every team upped their game. I strongly believe that with the additional investments and application of all new football rules, the league will compete with the EPL and La Liga in the next 3-4 years.
If you are invited to come and play for the Super Eagles, what will be your reaction?
I will feel honoured and would gladly accept the offer to represent my country. It will be a dream come true for me and I will surely give my best to retain a regular shirt.
Can you also speak about your times in the Nigerian League?
I had a good time while playing in the Nigerian league personally as I was doing so well for my team scoring goals and wining numerous MVP awards.
For someone who played in the Nigeria League, how can you compare the league to Swedish football?
I think it’s the organization, competitiveness, marketing, fair officiating and players welfare that differentiates both leagues.
Why Europe and not NPFL?
The NPFL is a good platform to start but Europe is more competitive, well organised and over there players contracts and welfare are honoured.
What’s your opinion concerning the Nigerian youths who were playing in the Swedish league but abandoned it to move to the major leagues?
I think it’s about their ambitions and going for new challenges and opportunities. Football is global and as long as the team and the league is FIFA certified and regulated, then it’s worth the move.
Which Nigerian player do you cherish most?
Austin Jay Jay Okocha for his skills and humility.
Messi or Ronaldo? Which of them will you love to play alongside or against?
Two great personalities and I will see myself privileged to play with or against both as they are both greatest of all times (GOAT).
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