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Child refugee helps create AFCON history

A former England youth international who fled Burundi at the age of 10 after his parents were killed during the civil war has been left without words after helping the African nation qualify for their first-ever Afcon tournament.

Saido Berahino was once tipped as the next star of English football as he amassed 46 caps for the junior national sides between U-16 and U-21 level, scoring 24 goals along the way.

It seemed a fairytale story for the talented attacker who was given refugee status in the United Kingdom, where he began his career at West Bromwich Albion and earned a senior national team call-up in 2015.

However, after not earning a competitive debut for The Three Lions, the 25-year-old year requested a change of allegiance to represent the country of his birth last year.

While former Mamelodi Sundowns attacker Abdul Fiston Razak has been the leading scorer in their campaign, Berahino’s direct running and explosive pace on the flanks has not gone unnoticed during their incredible qualification journey.

“It’s amazing, I cannot find the words,” Berahino told Radio France International after their 1-1 draw knocked out Gabon this weekend.

“I need to take myself away for a moment to try and properly realise what has happened because I have not really been able to do that yet,

“It was crazy from start to finish, from the moment we went to the stadium until when we left. It’s been totally unimaginable.

“It was crazy from start to finish, from the moment we went to the stadium until when we left. It’s been totally unimaginable.

“I can only thank God for the fact that I have always wanted to represent a team at a big tournament, and I can do with my homeland. It’s perfect. It’s a dream come true.”

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