Humble, happy but ultimately underwhelming - Saido Berahino leaves Sheffield Wednesday

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There were moments it looked like something of a masterstroke.

After Shrewsbury, after Doncaster away, after Cambridge. He scored vital goals in vital wins, most notably at MK Dons and in the season-ending, swash-buckling last day win over Portsmouth. He showed glimpses of the sort of talent that had his name up in lights all those years ago.

But ultimately Saido Berahino, he of former Premier League fame, is a free agent after a season-long stint at Sheffield Wednesday that ultimately just didn’t work out for either party.

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Saido Berahino scored eight League One goals in his time at Sheffield Wednesday.Saido Berahino scored eight League One goals in his time at Sheffield Wednesday.
Saido Berahino scored eight League One goals in his time at Sheffield Wednesday.

The reasons for that? Darren Moore cited the mid-season battle to regain ‘Football League fitness’, that his two-year stint in Belgium had accustomed his body to a different type of football with less requirement for upper-body strength and longer-term running.

When he was reintroduced to the campaign at half-time of a 3-1 win at Doncaster, Wednesday were losing and their strikers were stinking the place out. He and Callum Paterson flipped the game on its head; the first notable showcase of his patented split-second-outside-the-foot-turn-and-shot changing the game and, possibly, season.

Though the quality of opponent has nosedived, his Cambridge hat-trick was a display of striker instinct that got him so close to England call-ups and £20m transfers.

Alas, they were three of eight goals scored in a division a man of his talent should have torn to shreds.

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Any notion of laziness or poor attitude would be strongly disputed by anyone who had the pleasure of speaking to him.

Berahino arrived with a reputation brought about by deadline day tantrums while at West Brom and scathing interviews by former teammates, but his demeanour at Wednesday reflected anything but the bad boy image he had been cast in.

He was polite, engaging and humble. He kept himself to himself in the changing room by all accounts but was no hassle. And above all there was a sense he really wanted to score goals and achieve promotion with Sheffield Wednesday.

That Wednesday had a year’s option on his contract and chose not to take it is telling – this was not the player’s decision.

He’s left the bosom of his long-time friend and ‘father figure’ Moore. What next for Saido Berahino? We’ll all watch and wait with interest.