West Brom forward Saido Berahino hopes he can repay his adopted country for giving him a “second chance in life” by helping England to Euro 2016 glory.
The 21-year-old has scored seven goals in 10 Premier League matches for the Baggies this season and has been rewarded with a first senior call-up for the forthcoming games against Slovenia and Scotland.
Berahino fled his family’s war-torn homeland of Burundi to join his brother, sisters and mother in England, where he was granted political asylum. The family settled in the Newtown area of Birmingham before his promise was given a platform in West Brom’s academy.
He was part of the successful England side at the 2010 Under-17s European Championship and cannot wait to make the most of his opportunity with the seniors, who are at Wembley next weekend for their Euro 2016 qualifier against Slovenia before heading to Scotland for a friendly.
“This country gave me a second chance in life. I came to this country and it has provided me and my family with a safe place, and a better place to live in. It has given me a chance to perform what I want to achieve in life,” Berahino said.
“I feel very lucky that my family and West Bromwich Albion have looked after me and guided me.
“I will be very proud and honoured to represent England.”
Berahino is in line to become West Brom’s first outfield England international since Steve Hunt, who played against the Soviet Union in June 1984.
Michael Carrick and former Middlesbrough winger Stewart Downing were the other surprise inclusions in Hodgson’s 26-man squad.
Manchester United midfielder Carrick was left out of the World Cup squad and has only just returned from an ankle injury he suffered in the summer.
Downing, whose last cap came in May 2012, has earned a recall after impressing for West Ham this term.
Captain Wayne Rooney is likely to earn his 100th cap against Slovenia at Wembley.
Barkley is back: Page 22.