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West Brom youth chief Hopcroft proud of Berahino emergence

West Bromwich Albion's head of academy recruitment Steve Hopcroft is delighted with the emergence of Saido Berahino.

Relatively new to Albion after leaving Birmingham City Hopcroft had just agreed to help Phoenix when, Wayne Henry, one of the men behind the club, alerted him to Berahino.

Hopcroft recalled to the Birmingham Mail: "Within a couple of weeks of me sitting down with Wayne, he rang me up. He said 'We've got a terrific little player here, he's scoring a million goals a week, can I bring him up?'

"Saido came to Willingsworth School, which was one of the places we trained, and I remember watching him.

"Someone fizzed a ball across to him and his touch was impeccable and experience tells you that he has something.

"I wouldn't say at the time that I knew he was going to play for England, and he hasn't yet, but I knew he was a very good player.

"Some people need a lot of work on their individual technique, others need it on the tactical side of the game.

"Saido was just a natural footballer, he caressed the ball when he kicked it, we talk about skill and Saido had skill to start with, he could beat players, he could dribble.

"That's the thing I noticed straight away, a natural skilful ability to beat players.

"As he developed at the club, as he became a No. 9, he had to learn other facets of the game which has stood him in good stead because he has played in every position in the front areas.

"And he was a humble lad. Back then we knew our facilities were rubbish, but from where he'd come from it was an amazing step up."

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