Burundi-born Saido Berahino wants to repay the country that gave him “a second chance in life” after receiving his first England call-up for Roy Hodgson’s squad.
The West Bromwich Albion striker moved to England aged 10 and has played his way through the English Football League, with loans at modest Northampton Town and Brentford, to become the top-scoring Englishman in the Premier League this season with seven goals.
The 21-year-old, who has represented England at six junior age groups and scored 10 goals in 13 games at Under-21 level, said he and his family are extremely proud after making the senior squad for the Euro 2016 qualifier against Slovenia and a friendly with Scotland this month.
“I remember coming home and seeing I’d got my first-ever call up for England as a schoolboy. I was excited then and I’m excited now,” Berahino said on West Brom’s website (www.wba.co.uk).
“It will be a very emotional experience for me – if selected, I will play with all my heart.
“This country gave me a second chance in life. I came to this country and it has provided me and my family with a safe place, and a better place to live in. It’s given me a chance to perform what I want to achieve in life.
“I feel very lucky that my family and West Bromwich Albion have looked after me and guided me.”
Berahino adds firepower to a squad that continues to be without injured Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge.
Hodgson said he had considered picking the West Brom player in his previous squads but had been reluctant to take him from the Under-21 team.
“He was obviously in our minds but we didn’t choose him because of the importance of the two Under-21 qualifiers against Croatia (in October),” Hodgson told a news conference.
“But this time they only have a friendly match, so there’s no reason to pass over his credentials yet again.”
Southampton full back Nathaniel Clyne joins up with the squad for the second time, hoping to make his senior debut, and there are recalls for Michael Carrick, Theo Walcott and Ross Barkley after their returns from injury.
West Ham United midfielder Stewart Downing returns to Hodgson’s squad after an extended absence due to his excellent early season form that has helped propel the east London side to a surprise fifth in the table.
“He’s had a tremendous resurgence of form. I think it was the right time to ask him to come back,” Hodgson said.
England host Slovenia at Wembley on November15 before a visit to British rivals Scotland for a friendly three days later.
Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Southampton), Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion), Joe Hart (Manchester City).
Defenders: Leighton Baines (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Calum Chambers (Arsenal), Nathaniel Clyne (Southampton), Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling (both Manchester United).
Midfielders: Ross Barkley (Everton), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Stewart Downing (West Ham), Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana (both Liverpool), James Milner (Manchester City), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Andros Townsend (Tottenham), Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott (both Arsenal).
Forwards: Rickie Lambert (Liverpool), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Daniel Welbeck (Arsenal), Saido Berahino (West Bromwich Albion).