Berahino puts team first

Saido Berahino has refused to settle for personal accolades as he looks to fire England Under-21s to next summer’s Euro finals in Czech Republic.

The West Bromwich Albion forward bagged a brace against Moldova on Tuesday to take his tally in the group stage to eight goals in eight appearances.

It is the sort of form that has drawn praise from boss Gareth Southgate, whose team await Friday’s draw for the play-off round after topping Group One with nine wins in 10 matches.

Moldova 0-3 England

2015 UEFA Euro U21 Championship
Qualifying Group 1
Sheriff Stadium, Tiraspol
Tuesday 9 September 2014

And Berahino’s record in front of goal has put him fourth in the all-time Under-21 scoring records, just five strikes behind former Three Lions captain Alan Shearer and Francis Jeffers.

And with a series of fixtures this year and – all being well – next summer’s European Championship final, the 21-year-old has power to add to his tally.

“It’s nice to hear about my record this season and hopefully I can break the total one day, but I just thank god that I’ve contributed to the team,” he told TheFA.com after the 3-0 victory in Tiraspol. 

“You could see tonight that, even though there were a few changes [to the team], everyone stepped in and did their job.

“It just shows how strong we are as a group, we all gelled together and we all play together and understand each other well.

“The group is getting stronger and stronger as games are going by, so it was important that we got the victory and now we can kick on and go into the play-offs with confidence.”

Saido Berahino controls the ball

Saido Berahino brings the ball down against Moldova

After leading the line during Friday’s win over Lithuania, Berahino was switched into more of a supporting role in Moldova.

But after linking well with fellow forwards Harry Kane and Nathan Redmond, the 21-year-old admits he is more than comfortable in any of the positions.

“I’ve played on the left before for my club and I’ve played on the right, so I’m lucky enough that I can play on either side of the striker and up front if I’m required,” he added.

“I could have got four goals, but I’m happy to have got two and to contribute to the victory”

Saido Berahino 

“Tonight, it was about going out there and doing what’s required for the team and I was happy to get on the scoresheet.

“I was actually disappointed with myself because I thought I had good chances, especially in the second half, to get my hat-trick.

“I could have got four really, but I’m still happy to have got the two goals and to contribute to the victory.

“I just need to make sure that I go back and work hard on the training pitch to ensure that I take every chance that comes my way.”

England already knew that they had secured top spot in the group a play-off berth earlier this summer, following their win over Wales in Swansea.

But Berahino says the attitude instilled by Southgate and his staff, along with the stiff competition for places, means there was never any danger of the players losing their focus.

“The staff, especially the gaffer, have ensured that we’ve been professional about it, even though we’d already qualified with two games left,” he explained.

“We made sure that we finished strongly, that’s what we’ve tried to do and it’s good that we have the momentum to take into the play-offs.”