Saido Berahino: The Refugee Lighting Up English Football

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Saido Berahino. You may not have heard the name before, but chances are you will soon. The 20-year-old attacker is lighting up English football at the moment with his eye for goal and an equally inspiring backstory. The former refugee from Burundi has had quite a month, scoring on his debut for the England Under-21 team before scoring the winning goal against Manchester United this weekend.

Born in Burundi, Berahino was forced to flee his war-torn homeland a decade ago when he was just 10-years-old. The story goes that his mother was already living in England after being granted political asylum, so he travelled to Heathrow on his own once she had saved enough money to pay for the flight. The family settled in an inner city area of Birmingham and young Saido started playing football.

After just a year in England, he was spotted by Premier League team West Bromwich Albion whilst he was playing for his local side Phoenix United. He joined the club at Under-12s level and started to make his way through the ranks.

The young striker signed his first professional contract in the summer of 2011, before being sent out on loan to various lower league clubs including Northampton Town, Brentford and Peterborough United.

Grabbing his Opportunity

After impressing during his loan spells Berahino was put into the first team squad at West Brom at the start of this season. He made his first start for the club on August 27th 2013, and certainly didn't waste the chance. He scored a hat-trick in the League Cup tie against Newport County and was given his first taste of Premier League football just four days later when he came off the bench against Swansea City.

His impressive performances didn't go unnoticed and he was called up to the England U-21 squad at the beginning of September. His impact was instant, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win against Moldova U-21s.

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However, all that was just a warm up for this weekend at Old Trafford. West Brom were playing Manchester United - the current champions of England and one of the biggest teams in the world. Berahino started on the bench, but after an early injury he was given his chance to shine, scoring a lovely winner in an historic 2-1 win for his side.

In the words of The Guardian, "the way he consigned Manchester United to a 2-1 defeat on their home patch with a missile of a winner was the stuff of fantasy". In that one action, he catapulted himself into national attention, appearing on the back page of all the Sunday newspapers.

To give you an idea of the scale of his achievement, you can compare his wage to that of his opponents that day - Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie. Whilst Berahino earns just £850 a week, they are both on £250,000 a week, meaning that what Berahino earns in a year is roughly what they each earn EVERY DAY.

And what does Saido himself make of his life in the last month? "This is up there. Scoring against Manchester United is everyone's dream. It is a great feeling. Yes. God is great. I thank God".

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