Youngster prepared for a visit to his childhood stomping ground
SAIDO Berahino says growing up in the shadow of Villa Park has fully prepared him for a return to his old neighbourhood on Wednesday night (ko 7.45pm).
The striker arrived in Birmingham from Burundi at the age of ten and attended both Aston Tower Primary and Aston Manor Academy while also learning his trade as a player with Albion’s Academy.
And the 20-year-old, who was an unused substitute when the Baggies drew 2-2 with the Claret and Blues at The Hawthorns in November, is hoping to upset his Villa-supporting friends by netting the winner in his old backyard.
“I went to school in Aston and lots of my friends were Villa fans,” said Berahino.
“They’re still Villa fans now and I’m sure I will get a bit of stick if we win.
“I have grown up around this game.
“I’ve been to a fair few Albion-Villa games too.
“I grew up really close to Villa Park and on a matchday my road would fill up with cars.
“Hopefully we win and if I can get the winning goal then great, but the three points are more important.
“This game has a special spice added to it.
“I like to take every game as it comes but I know on Wednesday I will feel more into this game than any other.”
Berahino insists his team-mates understand the importance of the Albion-Villa derby.
“The way that the fans and the media approach the game raises the level of expectation,” he added.
“The build up to it and the way the fans feel about the game adds that extra excitement.
“It makes you put in that extra effort.
“We want to win as much as anyone else so we know we have to put a lot of hard work in.
“We’re totally aware of how the fans feel about this game.
“We want to get the three points as much as the fans do.
“We all know how important three points would be too.”
The club’s top scorer says ten years at The Hawthorns has resulted in Albion holding a special place in his heart – and allayed fears his football allegiance may lie close to his former home.
“I’ve never been a Villa fan.
“I’ve always been a Manchester United fan.
“My mom’s an Arsenal fan and she called me up after I scored at Old Trafford and asked me ‘do you know what you’ve just done?’
“I’m a United fan, but I’ve spent most of my life involved with this club, so West Bromwich Albion comes before anything else.”