Belfast Telegraph

Berahino happy to feel wanted

Saido Berahino has admitted he felt alone at West Brom last season.

But the honest striker feels he has banished any demons which threatened his career before it had barely begun.

This year he is the Baggies' three-goal top scorer after returning to training early in the summer to get back on track.

It is a far cry from the end of last season where a video of him inhaling laughing gas, a legal high, emerged in April, just weeks after a dressing room bust-up with James Morrison.

It was a turbulent end to a season where Berahino announced himself with a hat-trick against Newport County in the League Cup.

A goal against Arsenal and the winner at Manchester United in September then catapulted him into the spotlight.

And after his roller-coaster breakthrough campaign, which included his England Under-21 debut, Berahino is a changed man.

"Because my family are always pushing me, there wasn't a point last season when I felt, 'Wow, I've hit rock bottom here'. I always knew I could go again," he said ahead of Sunday's home game with Burnley in the Barclays Premier League.

"But I felt more alone than rock bottom. There was no-one I could go to in the club and get advice from.

"Things have changed as last season I don't think the seniors knew who I was.

"Now we've got that relationship, they understand me and I understand them.

"You mature quicker, playing a man's game, you have the senior lads that help you along with it as well.

"I would say maybe I learned that the harsh way last season. But I don't regret any of it, it's made me who I am now so I just look forward."

Berahino, a committed Christian, turned 21 in August and this month tweeted 'What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?'.

It was something which resonated with him due to his faith and what he has experienced in his short career.

"It was something I was watching on TV. I am religious, it was a Christian thing and this question was asked to viewers. I sat down and thought, 'What a brilliant question'," he said.

"You get caught up in this world, you want to do certain things that really don't have a value. We do a lot of things, you think in your head it is a massive thing, but really it doesn't have value. I am not perfect, I will never say I am perfect or the best Christian, but I try.

"People out there will look at me and say how can I be a religious person, look at the amount of stuff you did in the past. At the end of the day, you get judged for what you do in the past.

"When I look back, sometimes I can't believe how I have got myself here. I think it is the faith that I've kept, always praying to God and asking for forgiveness for what I've done."

Last December's sacking of Steve Clarke affected Berahino and his form dropped under replacement Pepe Mel. He scored just three goals after Boxing Day as the Baggies beat the drop by just three points, finishing 17th.

Alan Irvine replaced Mel in June and has won back-to-back games ahead of the Clarets' visit.

Berahino scored a late winner in the 3-2 Capital One Cup victory over Hull on Wednesday and insisted new the head coach has rekindled his belief.

"Losing Steve Clarke kind of touched me, I kind of lost myself. Those things happen," he said.

"I have played under four managers now so I am learning each day.

"Alan has brought that self-belief back into me, I kind of lost that at the end of last season. And he's given me freedom to play and express myself which I think is really important.

"The more you talk to me the more we will get on and the more you will probably get out of me. I will know what you are looking for and I can show you what I can give."

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