INSIDE AFCON 2019: Troubled Burundi Star Saido Berahino Cautions Doubters Ahead of Nigeria Clash (AUDIO)

ALEXANDRIA – Burundi captain Saido Berahino has exclusively told that competing at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations isn’t about him redeeming his troubled career because he has nothing to prove to anyone else but himself.

Berahino, once seen as a leading talent and coveted by a host of elite clubs after scoring 20 goals for West Bromwich Albion in the 2014/2015 season has seen his career go off the rails with a series of questionable decisions in his private life and listless performances for his club sides where he once went 913 days without a competitive goal.

The striker was arrested for drunk driving last season which saw his club side, Stoke City, launch legal proceedings against him before terminating his contract but the player who will lead out The Swallows for their debut appearance at an Africa Cup of Nations against Nigeria insists he has learnt from his mistakes and that those missteps and the ignominy of having his contract terminated aren’t going to define his career. 

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“No, I have to prove to myself that I can still play at a high level, it’s not about proving to anybody else but myself, you know, whatever happens, happens. People learn from their mistakes and move on but this is not going to define my career not at all, I’m only 25,” he told about the perception that he was only in Egypt to rebuild his career.

Although the striker had represented England where he sought asylum as a 10-year-old from the U16s to the U21s and only switched allegiances to his birth country last August after they’d first approached him in 2015, he insists that he’d always wanted to play for The Swallows.

He was made captain of the national team ahead of the AFCON by head coach Olivier Niyungeko and the 25-year-old who described the act as “a massive honour” says he will employ his experience playing in Europe to good effect in the role.

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“As a young child I never dreamed of playing in Europe and when God gave me that opportunity it changed my life and I’ve managed to play for England from under 16 to under 21 but like I always said, Burundi has always been my homeland and I’ve always wanted to play for Burundi and being able to captain my homeland for the first time in such a tournament is a massive honour for me.

“There’s a lot on my shoulders but with the experience I’ve gained playing in Europe I’m sure I can pass down to my teammates.”