Saido Berahino heeds Chris Brunt’s advice to make himself a hero by getting Sheffield Wednesday promoted

“Go and be a hero, get them promoted”.

That was Chris Brunt’s message to Saido Berahino after the former West Brom and Stoke City striker opted to kickstart his career in England at Sheffield Wednesday following two years playing football in Belgium.

Berahino and Brunt are former Baggies team-mates, and the latter is qualified to talk about an Owls promotion from League One, as the Irishman was part of Paul Sturrock’s side which won the play-offs in 2005.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Whether the class of 2022 follow in their footsteps is a question to be answered in the coming weeks. But if they can bottle their performance against Cambridge, where the Owls were superb and 6-0 up after just 54 minutes before Darren Moore’s side opted for mercy and took their foot off the gas, then a top-six finish looks assured.

All smiles: Saido Berahino celebrates with the match ball and his Sheffield Wednesday team-mates in the dressing room after their 6-0 win over Cambridge United. (Picture: Steve Ellis)

Berahino rekindled memories of his Premier League days – where his eye for goal made him a target for Tottenham before a £12m move to Stoke City – on Saturday netting a superb hat-trick, and providing the assist for George Byers’s goal.

It’s fair to say Berahino – still only 28 – has not followed the career trajectory many predicted when he netted 20 goals in all competitions with Premier League side West Brom in 2014-15.

“As a player you grow, mature, and see things differently,” said Berahino.

“I am 28 now, 29 soon, and of course there is a reason I am playing in League One. A lot of things have happened, behind closed doors, but as a player you learn and push on, aim for the best.

Owls' Saido Berahino hits his hat trick goal (Picture: Steve Ellis)

“When I look back at my career, I want to look back and say I gave it my all after what I went through. I am enjoying it here.

“Great fans, great stadium, and I knew they (fans) would always be behind me. I played with Chris Brunt and he told me ‘if you give your all, the fans will always back you’.

“He told me ‘go and be a hero, get them promoted’. That’s what I am trying to do.

“So far I am enjoying myself and it’s going well.”

Sheffield Wednesday's hat-trick man Saido Berahino. (Picture: Steve Ellis)

After starting the season playing for Waregem in Belgium, the forward was brought back to England by Moore, the pair having worked together at West Brom.

It’s taken time for Berahino to adapt to English football, but five goals in the last five games is reward for patience, some hard graft on the training ground and in the gymnasium.

“As a striker, when you score goals you gain confidence from that,” said Berahino, who now has seven this season, and was given a standing ovation when he was substituted on 72 minutes.

“The work I have done behind closed doors has helped me stay positive. And if the team are playing well, getting results, then I can’t complain (about not starting).

“I just had to wait for my opportunity. I think I have taken it and I just need to keep going now.

“Getting clapped off by the fans after a hat-trick was nice. It’s been a while since I scored at home too.

“Being in Belgium for two years, the game over there is a bit different. It’s more to do with being fit, running wise, not to do with strength.

“I lost so much muscle and when I came back I found it difficult as a striker, like holding up the ball.

“So I had to get in the gym, work on my size, which I have and it’s now paying off,” added the striker.

The match was effectively won inside the first 10 minutes on Saturday, as Barry Bannan proved why many believe he is the best footballer in League One with a stunning 30-yard strike after an own-goal from Lloyd Jones as he attempted to cut out Lee Gregory’s cross.

Berahino had already smashed an effort against the post, before turning his marker following Bannan’s set-up and drilling the ball home on 37 minutes.

The striker bagged his second after visiting goalkeeper Dimitar Mitov could only parry Lewis Gibson’s close-range effort to make it 4-0 at the break.

Berahino turned provider as Byers fired in goal number five, before completing his hat-trick on an afternoon which Wednesday dominated throughout.

Victory tomorrow, at home to Accrington Stanley, will see the Owls move back into the top six.

“We have a good bunch of lads, and we have one thing on our minds; to get in the Championship,” said Berahino.

“We are not going to get carried away though, we have Tuesday coming up, another difficult game, and we need to get three points. Every game is now like a final.

“As a striker you always want to score as many goals as possible. I have a target, by the end of the season to get double figures.

“If somebody had asked me if I could get that back in December I would have looked at myself and said ‘I am not getting game time, it’s difficult’.

“But now the door is open and I need to carry on what I am doing.”

Owls boss Moore added: “It was the perfect day for Sheffield Wednesday.

“I know Saido will take the plaudits, but I am really pleased to see him take the three goals.”

Sheffield Wednesday: Peacock-Farrell, Storey, Hutchinson (Iorfa 58), Gibson, Hunt, Byers, Luongo, Bannan, Johnson, Berahino (Sow 72), Gregory (Kamberi 58). Unused substitutes: Palmer, Paterson, Dele-Bashiru, Wildsmith.

Cambridge United: Mitov, Williams, Sherring (Okedina 63), Jones, Dunk, May (O’Neil 46), Digby, Smith, Hoolahan (Knibbs 46), Brophy, Ironside. Unused substitutes: Tolaj, Tracey, Lankester, Mannion.

Referee: S Stockbridge (Tyne & Wear).