The next big thing at West Bromwich Albion: Saido Berahino

01 December 2010

Back in May, West Bromwich Albion starlet Saido Berahino scored a dazzling goal for England against Turkey in the UEFA European Under-17 Championship as the young Three Lions side went on to win the tournament for the first time.

Berahino was not even in the squad at the beginning of the tournament – which was perhaps a little harsh given that, given that England manager John Peacock admitted that the Baggies starlet made “a big contribution in the qualifying tournaments” - but was in fact an emergency call-up after Chuks Aneke picked up an injury.

He came to Aston, Birmingham from war-torn Burundi six years ago to live with his mother and was signed up for Albion’s Under-12 side after a trial, impressing the Hawthorns club’s staff sufficiently to be offered a scholarship for their academy.

With his mother having already fled to England to see asylum and his father passing away  when he was only very young, Berahino was put on a plane to Heathrow by himself once his mother had secured the right to stay in Britain and raised enough money for the airfare.

It has been reported that, when he arrived, immigration officials spent a number of days trying to track down his mother with the aid of an interpreter, given that Berahino could only speak French at the time.

Mark Harrison, his former coach at the West Brom Academy, told the Sunday Mercury:

“He [Berahino] started with us in the under 12s and he has developed into a really gifted footballer and finisher.

“He has scored all different types of goals.

“Now he is on a full-time scholarship with us and has now made his debut for England.

“Obviously to go from where he was to be an international player is amazing.

“He has the potential to go as far as he wants and play in the Premiership if he continues to develop, but obviously he needs to remain focussed.”

You can see Berahino’s  eye-catching equaliser in England U17’s 2-1 win over Turkey in this brief highlights video: