Stoke star Saido Berahino excited about West Brom return despite drug test failure
As timing goes, you could argue it could not have been worse. Before yesterday's news, he already expected to get 90 minutes of abuse following his protracted and bitter split from West Brom.
Berahino spent the best part of two years trying to leave after threatening never to play for the club again when a £20million move to Tottenham was blocked in 2015.
And he returns just a fortnight after finally escaping with a £15m move to Stoke, hours after details emerged that he had served an eight-week ban from September last year after testing positive for using a recreational drug during a non-competitive test by the FA.
"It's actually funny," he says of returning to the Hawthorns. "I don't know why, but I'm actually excited. I know what I'm going to get and that's probably why I'm excited the most – the fact they are going to boo me and we end up winning at the end.
Berahino tried to force a move away from West Brom for two years before finally getting a break
"I'm not going to celebrate and give it all that stuff if I score. I've got respect for them. They have done a lot for me and so I'm not going to go out there hoping I can score a goal to put two fingers up to everybody at the stadium."
He cracks a joke at himself at the suggestion of maybe copying Emmanuel Adebayor's infamous incendiary celebration in 2009 when he ran the length of the pitch to celebrate a goal against his old club Arsenal. "I don't think I'm fit enough for that," he says. "I'm not that type of player or person. I have a dignity and I wouldn't do it."
That dignity, however, does not appear to stretch to his off-field activities and it is not the first time Berahino has been caught up in scandal. He apologised to West Brom in April 2014 after being videoed inhaling nitrous oxide, the so-called 'hippy crack'.
The abuse he expected, therefore, is likely to increase 10-fold. "It's not going to be great but I have been booed before – while I was playing for them," he says. "So it's not going to make a difference for me really whether I get booed or not. I'm just going to go there and try to win the game.
Berahino is hoping to repay Stoke after being handed a five-year deal
"It will feel a bit weird. I have been there since I was a kid so it will be a bit strange for me. So, I will say my hellos and hopefully we come away with a win."
The problems for Berahino appear to just keep mounting. Before this recent drug story, he had found himself frozen out at West Brom and banished to a fitness camp in France to sort his head and his fitness out. He then admitted he felt depressed.
"All I've ever wanted to do is play football and when that is taken away from you, you are lost," he says. "I was very lost. It was hard for me. I just thank Stoke for having so much faith in me, for coming window after window, to want to sign me and show that interest. Finally they've done it. I'm here and I'm so glad.
"They came back after being rejected so many times. It just shows the lengths they were willing to go for me and offering me a five-year deal is a bonus. I just can't wait to repay them.
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"Obviously it's going to take a few games to get me back to where I was before but with the right set up here, the great players I'll have around me, I can't see myself struggling."
Asked what Stoke fans should expect of him, he says: "They can expect an honest lad. I love the game so much. I still believe I've got unfinished business in the Premier League.
"Even at my lowest point, I never thought of walking away from the game. There's always an end to everything. I'm a great believer in things happening for a reason. So everything happened for a reason. I got taught a great lesson and it's made me a better person."
His latest drug use came after those comments about being taught a great lesson. His new club will hope he is serious about taking his fresh start with both hands.