Saido Berahino has opened up about his failed transfer to Tottenham in 2015, saying he “couldn’t get over it”.
West Brom turned down bids from Spurs for the now 26-year-old striker in the run-up to the August deadline.
“I regret every moment of it, because I didn’t handle it well,” he said.
Berahino attracted the interest of then Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino after scoring 20 goals in the 2014-15 season, aged just 21.
He was even touted for an England call-up, but his career quickly nose-dived.
In the five seasons since the transfer saga, Berahino has scored just 19 goals in club and international football.
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“[That is] one moment in my life I can say I couldn’t get over it,” Berahino told the BBC World Service.
“I didn’t know what to do, I got caught up in the hype. I didn’t handle the situation properly, I let it get hold of me. The people around me at the time didn’t know what to do either. Bad news travels fast.
“The media is there to do their job, they build you up and when you are ready to come back down, you will come back down like a roller coaster. I wasn’t focusing on the media, I was more concerned on my career and what I was going through emotionally.”
|How the goals dried up for Berahino|
Tony Pulis, who was appointed West Brom manager midway through the striker’s breakthrough season, attempted to bring him back into the fold but slowly lost patience, saying his fitness and mental levels were not right after Berahino completed a £12 million move to Stoke in January 2017.
It was also reported he served an eight-week FA suspension at the end of his time at the Hawthorns for failing a drugs test.
It took Berahino 35 appearances to register his first goal at Stoke, by which time they had been relegated from the Premier League.
The Burundi-born forward is now trying to rebuild his career with Belgian First Division A side Waregem.
He scored three goals in his first four matches following a summer move and, after 14 appearances, has already equalled the tally of five goals he managed in two-and-a-half years with Stoke.
Berahino believes he is now slowly turning a corner and, thanks to help from new coach and mentor Francky Dury, is learning to accept the responsibility for his own actions – both on and off the pitch.
He said: “The love of the game is there now, the passion, the responsibilities I have here have taught me so much about the game.
“The coach – we talk about the game every day and he has helped me be more open about football, help my teammates, speak more freely, be a leader.
“To be here for six months and given such responsibilities has made me happy and to be a role model for a lot of these guys. It has been a great challenge.”
Berahino’s newfound leadership skills have also come in handy on the international scene, scoring twice as captain of Burundi in their successful qualification for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations – the first time the nation had made it to the finals.
“During a game in Burundi everyone stops, everyone is watching,” he said. “When we qualified for Africa Nations Cup, the whole place stopped and we partied for four days straight. Me being captain is huge and the love you get from the fans is huge, It doesn’t matter how bad you are, they will just lift your spirits to the max.”
Transfers that famously didn’t happen
Peter Odemwingie – West Brom to QPR (January 2013)
The Nigerian striker’s decision to drive to QPR to try to push through a deal, only to be locked out and pictured looking confused in the club car park, is the deadline-day drama that had it all.
Carlton Cole – West Ham to West Brom (January 2015)
English forward Cole had reportedly completed a medical and agreed personal terms only to get a phone call from Hammers manager Sam Allardyce 20 minutes before the deadline saying the deal had fallen through.
Dietmar Hamann – Liverpool to Bolton Wanderers (July 2006)
Hamann actually signed a pre-contract to become a Bolton player but had a “change of heart”. The German midfielder joined Bolton for less than one day before instead moving to Manchester City.
Benjani Mwaruwari – Portsmouth to Manchester City (February 2008)
This protracted deal did eventually go through but not before a last-minute hitch on deadline day after the Zimbabwe forward reportedly fell asleep in an airport while waiting for a plane to the North West and missed two flights.
Alan Shearer – Southampton to Manchester United (1991/92), Blackburn to Manchester United (1996)
Imagine what the footballing world would have been like if the BBC pundit had signed for the Old Trafford giants? According to Shearer, he twice came close to joining up with Sir Alex Ferguson, before plumping to sign for Blackburn and Newcastle.