Voice of Sport

Burundi’s full England international prospect finally gets deserved salary at West Brom

Already an England Under-20 international, the youngster is considered one of the game’s rising stars, an explosive attacker whose surge to prominence has taken him to the brink of the full England squad

SAIDO Berahino the young Burundian England international who was recently earning a salary like an ordinary Kenyan Premier League player is a millionaire overnight.

The West Bromwich Albion striker who last November was on a 850 sterling pound [Sh122,000/-] salary, lower than the club’s kit man has signed a new three-and-a-half year deal worth around £20,000 [Sh2.8 million] per week.

On his previous salary Berahino would have taken five years to earn what Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure takes home in a week.

Now the England Under-21 international, who has scored 12 goals this season is on the radar of admiring clubs among them Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton.

Mother and siblings

The 20-year-old Berahino arrived in the UK from war-torn Burundi as a 10-year-old with his mother and siblings and the family were granted political asylum.

Of his new fortunes WBA manager Steve Clarke said: “It’s great news for Saido and fantastic news for the club and the supporters. He’s been a breath of fresh air in our squad this year.

“It will be great for Saido because he is a young boy who has maybe become a little bit distracted by the fact it has been ongoing [salary negotiations] for so long.”

Clarke had previously spoken of his fear at potentially losing the player, whose contract had been due to expire at the end of the season.

Winner  at Old Trafford

The youngster has shot to prominence this season, scoring the winner at Old Trafford, finding the net against Arsenal and becoming the first West Brom player in 20 years to score a hat-trick on his debut.

A few short months before the start of the season, Berahino was a promising talent few outside the English West Midlands had really heard of. He didn’t have an agent and had been loaned out to Northampton Town, Brentford and Peterborough United. He was one for the future.

After arriving in the UK football was the vehicle that allowed him to be accepted at Aston Tower Primary School. A year later he was picked up by the West Brom Academy and now he is dreaming of making a late charge into the England World Cup squad. Whispers suggest Berahino is in Hodgson’s thoughts already and could be called up sooner than later.

Already an England Under-20 international, the youngster is considered one of the game’s rising stars, an explosive attacker whose surge to prominence has taken him to the brink of the full England squad.

Played in the streets

But even as all the limelight started to shine on him, money was not important to the boy from Burundi. Berahino grew up surrounded by poverty. As a child, he made his own footballs from plastic bags and shoelaces. He played in the streets.

The thought of being paid to play football was beyond his dreams and he was grateful to have been given a second chance at life after fleeing with his mother Liliane as a brutal civil war tore his homeland apart and claimed the life of his father.

His attitude was always that when the time came, he would be paid what his performances deserved. Unsurprisingly WBA manager Clarke was urging the club to move swiftly to secure Berahino’s long-term future as his contract was set to expire next summer.

Clarke was, however, wary of placing too much expectation on the shoulders of the young forward.

Continue to develop

“All I would say is that he is a young boy that, a few weeks ago, nobody was talking about,” the Baggies boss said. “You have to keep the level of expectation down. In this country we are too quick to push people forward as the next big thing. For Saido, the most important thing is that he continues to develop as a player.

“People are trying to push him too far too quickly. Give the boy time to grow and develop.”

At the time Clarke thought a deal of around £10,000 [Sh1.3m] per week was going to happen. Double that has.