LONDON: West Bromwich Albion’s Saido Berahino, leading English marksman in the Premier League has been called up to the England squad for the first time.
The Burundi-born 21-year-old, who has scord seven goals in 10 matches, has been included by manager Roy Hodgson in the squad for England’s upcoming Euro 2016 clash with Slovenia and friendly against Scotland.
Berahino fled the 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.
Berahino was a member of the successful England side at the 2010 Under-17s European Championship but 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.
He said: “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.
“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.
He added: “I remember coming home and seeing I had got my first-ever call up for England as a schoolboy – I was excited then and I am excited now. It will be a very emotional experience for me – if selected, I will play with all my heart.”
Michael Carrick and Stewart Downing were the other surprise inclusions.
Manchester United midfielder Carrick was left out of Hodgson’s 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.
Wayne Rooney was included in the 26-man party, which means he is likely to earn his 100th cap against Slovenia at Wembley a week on Saturday.
Arsenal winger Theo Walcott is recalled to the squad after recovering from a knee injury that kept him out for 10 months and Everton’s Ross Barkley is back after missing the last two get-togethers with a knee injury.
Hodgson has continued to omit Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge.
Fraser Forster, Ben Foster, Joe Hart, Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Calum Chambers, Nathaniel Clyne, Kieran Gibbs, Phil Jagielka, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling, Ross Barkley, Michael Carrick, Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Raheem Sterling, Andros Townsend, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Rickie Lambert, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Welbeck, Saido Berahino.
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