Radio Sandwell Sport

The Birmingham teacher who shaped Saido Berahino

2014-11-19 15:25:04

Saido Berahino
Aston Manor Academy PE teacher David Brown and (inset) Saido Berahino

There won't be a prouder man in the country than teacher David Brown if West Bromwich Albion ace Saido Berahino wins his first full England cap against Scotland on Tuesday night.

The Aston Manor Academy head of sport has nurtured the career of Burundi-born Berahino since the young star first showed the talent that has made him the top scoring English-qualified player in the Premier League, with a price tag upwards of £20 million.

The hard work and dedication displayed by the striker is no surprise to Mr Brown, who has guided the youngster's career since he left primary school.

"It was obvious when he first came to us that he was a very talented lad," said Mr Brown.

"I was blessed that Saido was part of a group that was a pleasure to teach. But no one else has made the same sort of impact."

Besides his prowess as a footballer, young Baggie Berahino also showed immense promise on the athletics track and basketball court.

He excelled in the high hurdles and javelin and was a key member of a school athletics squad rated as one of the best in the UK.

The future England international would often train on his own, putting in the hard yards in lonely training sessions during winter nights at Perry Barr's Alexandra Stadium before heading to The Hawthorns for stints with the Baggies.

Saido Berahino
Saido Berahino with the Aston Manor football academy team

When he was not on the track he was shooting hoops on the basketball court and pals included future Warwickshire cricketers Ateeq Javid and Recordo Gordon.

"His work ethic was fantastic and he would take on board any criticism levelled at him whatever the sport," explained Mr Brown.

But Berahino's talents were not solely reserved for the track or football field.

He also showed a range of academic skills that earned him up to 10 GCSEs. He speaks several languages, including being fluent in French and the native tongue of his Burundi roots.

And the star, who is set to seal a new £40,000 a week deal at The Hawthorns, has not forgotten how his days at Aston Manor Academy have prepared him for football's international stage.

He regularly returns to the school and keeps in contact with his academy mentor.

The sports teacher said: "Saido gives back a lot. He comes back to see us and gives lots of advice to the youngsters in the football, athletics and basketball teams. We are trying to find another diamond and he helps us."

Saido Berahino
Berahino's pals at Aston Manor Academy included future Warwickshire cricketers Ateeq Javid and Recordo Gordon

Berahino also treated Mr Brown and his family to a VIP experience at England's Under-21 play-off victory against Croatia at Wolverhampton Wanderers earlier this season, which was "amazing" according to the player's former teacher.

There will be no shortage of suitors for Berahino’s signature if he continues his current on-field progress which should culminate in him winning his first full cap against Scotland on Tuesday evening.

But Albion fans should not worry that Berahino will take the money and run from the club which gave him his chance after he fled his war-torn homeland following the tragic death of his father.

"I am very proud of him," said Mr Brown.

"We have talked about what he could do, but he is only young and is happy with Albion.

"He needs to play regularly at this stage in his career and he appreciates that he can do this with the Baggies. He knows there's lots of interest but he takes it in his stride.

"I think he will stay for a while yet."

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