International

Berahino thankful to England

2014-11-07 12:52
Graham Dorrans celebrates with teammate Saido Berahino. (Paul Ellis, AFP)

London - West Bromwich Albion's Burundi-born striker Saido Berahino wants to thank his adoptive country England for giving him a "second chance" after being called up by national team manager Roy Hodgson.

Berahino, 21, has been rewarded with his first senior call-up for England's forthcoming games against Slovenia and Scotland after scoring seven goals in his last 10 Premier League appearances for West Brom.

Aged 10, Berahino fled war-torn Burundi to join his family in England, where they had been granted political asylum in Birmingham, and went on to join West Brom's youth academy.

Speaking of his gratitude to the country that he has represented at every age-level from under-16 to under-21, Berahino told the West Brom website: "This country gave me a second chance in life.

"I came to this country and it has provided me and my family with a safe place, and a better place to live in. It has given me a chance to perform what I want to achieve in life.

"I feel very lucky that my family and West Bromwich Albion have looked after me and guided me. I will be very proud and honoured to represent England."

Berahino is in line to become the first West Brom outfield player to turn out for England since Steve Hunt in 1984 and he says he is relishing the opportunity.

"I remember coming home and seeing I had got my first-ever call up for England as a schoolboy. I was excited then and I am excited now," he said.

"It will be a very emotional experience for me. If selected, I will play with all my heart."

Hodgson first encountered Berahino during his time as West Brom manager and he explained that he felt the time was right for the youngster to make the step up from England's under-21s.

"I am just pleased for him, because I know how much football means to him," Hodgson told a press conference at Wembley Stadium.

"I was pleased that he, in his interview the other day, made it clear how important England and English football has been to him and his family.

"It is a really nice story and now it is up to him to show he can make this step up, but I am happy to give him the chance."

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