Saido Berahino exclusive: “I’ve never publicly apologised for my behaviour towards Jeremy Peace at West Brom, but I’d like to do it now”
The former West Brom forward tells FFT what happened with that botched transfer to Spurs
The Premier League era is littered with sliding doors moments, and Saido Berahino's botched transfer to Tottenham Hotspur in 2015 had serious repercussions on a promising career.
Berahino had been scoring for fun for West Bromwich Albion before Spurs made their £22m offer ahead of the new season. It looked as if the striker's career was about to take off, but when West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace rejected the offer, his career started to go downhill.
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"I scored 20 goals in all competitions and was named Players’ Player of the Year that season," Berahino tells the March edition of FourFourTwo, which you can order with free delivery here. "Then, in August 2015, Tottenham made a bid for me. I’d been criticised for an interview where I said I’d like to move on to bigger things in the future – but whatever profession you’re in, if somebody offers you a promotion, you’d take it.
"I wanted to improve and play with top-quality players, fighting for titles like the Champions League – and I meant that with no disrespect to West Brom. I was disappointed with the way it was documented – that I didn’t want to be part of West Brom’s team any more. The players understood my situation."
While any football fan could understand the disappointment of missing out on a dream move, few were impressed with Berahino's subsequent behaviour.
"Under Mauricio Pochettino, with the players they had, it was the beginning of the new Tottenham," he explains. "Being part of that would have been fantastic – it would have taken me to another level. But West Brom kept rejecting their offers, then when my agent told me the move was off, I was upset. I had so much anger towards one guy, West Brom owner Jeremy Peace.
"When you’re young, you don’t understand the business and how everything works. I didn’t take it well – I took it personally, then got myself involved in all sorts of bad things, tweeting that I’d never play for Peace again. I do regret that. As soon as I sent the tweet, it was all over Sky Sports News.
"My mum came into my room saying, ‘What are you doing? Get off that now! You don’t handle yourself in that manner, this is not you’. She was cross. I’ve never publicly apologised for my behaviour towards Jeremy Peace, but I’d like to do it now. He deserves that – we’ve never spoken since that period, but until then we’d had a good relationship. He’d given me a new contract at West Brom and done great things for my family. He changed my life."
Berahino was vilified by fans and the media, and a loss of form eventually led to his cut-price sale to Stoke City in 2017. The Burundi International, who represented England at youth level, was later sold to Belgian club Zulte Waregem and is currently on loan at RSC Charleroi. With the benefit of hindsight, Berahino appreciates it was Tottenham Hotspur who needed to do more to make the move happen.
"I felt like Spurs could have done more to make the deal go through," he reflects. "I don’t know if they were choosing between me and Son Heung-min, or if they planned to sign both of us, because I didn’t speak to anyone at Spurs. I wasn’t really the same after that. I had internet battles with fans and didn’t enjoy going into work at times. I just felt very alone – my mind was so unclear."
Now 27, Berahino would love an opportunity to make amends with Baggies fans.
"I’d like to return to England," he reveals. "I’m meant to be in my prime years now, and I have a point to prove. I’m not the person that people think I am. I know it’s not realistic at the moment because they’re in the Premier League, but I dream of going back to The Hawthorns. The way the fans took to me and chanted my name was unbelievable, and the way it ended was disappointing. I have regrets.
"I’m wiser now. I’ve learned to appreciate what I’ve been through. In my Twitter bio, there’s a quote: ‘For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’ I was doing a Bible study when I found that sentence, and it hit home."
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