Youngster explains why he was not fazed by Old Trafford test
SAIDO Berahino believes his England international experiences ensured he did not freeze when it came to his big Barclays Premier League chance on the Theatre of Dreams stage.
The 20-year-old Albion Academy product was called into action earlier than expected in the 13th minute of Saturday's 2-1 victory at reigning champions Manchester United when he replaced the injured Scott Sinclair.
But he was far from overawed in front of a 75,000 crowd thanks to his recent successes in England Under-21s Euro qualifiers and his exploits in the 2011 Under-20s World Cup in Colombia.
And not only did he score a sensational 67th-minute winner but he ran ragged a United defence that included former England skipper Rio Ferdinand, who handed the Baggies hotshot his shirt after the game.
"I wasn’t ready and I don’t even think my shinpads were on properly when I went on," said Berahino.
“But it turned out well.
“I have been there before as a reserve player.
“I hadn’t played there before, it was my first time, but I didn’t get fazed by it.
“I’ve had experience playing on big stages because a couple of years ago I went away to the Under-20s World Cup and played in front of big crowds, so it didn’t really faze me.
“I just enjoyed myself.
“It is a great stadium, a great pitch and a great set of fans, so it’s a dream really.
“If you don’t want to play there you might as well not be a footballer."
The Burundi-born striker also paid tribute to new loan signing Morgan Amalfitano, who teed up his strike and opened the scoring with a superb solo effort to take the man-of-the-match honours.
“It was a great set from Morgan, who has been great for us since we signed him, Berahino added.
“I wasn’t far away for his goal and it was a great run from him. That just showed what type of player he is.
“He is a great player and he’s going to be really important for us this season."