Saido Berahino used to play barefooted in the streets of Burundi, where plastic bags were made into makeshift footballs.
It was there, in the capital of Bujumbura, the Albion striker fell in love with the sport, having a kickaround with friends and cousins whenever he could.
“Sometimes it was on grass, other times it was sand, gravel, whatever,” he said. “None of us had boots and we used to make our own balls using loads of plastic bags and wrapping them up together.
“We would play in school, at playtime and then after school. That’s all we had. It’s not like over here where kids have PS3s and the internet.
“Over there, everyone was out all the time playing football. We were all together, we all knew each other. We all just wanted to play.”
It is a far cry from his life little more than a decade on. Berahino is now a Premier League footballer with Albion and could make his debut for England Under-21s tonight against Moldova.
It has been quite a rise for the striker, who fled his homeland aged 10 after his father became one of the estimated 300,000 killed in the civil war.
He moved to Birmingham, where his mother had found them somewhere to live, and began the arduous task of getting used to a new life.
“I didn’t speak English at all,” he said. “It was difficult. I remember going to my first primary school in Year Six and I had to have a tutor to teach me the language.
“It was so frustrating, because I wanted to be among the rest of the lads at the school. But I wasn’t able to do that because I couldn’t speak English. Luckily I learnt quickly and soon settled. I quickly got respect from the other boys at school after I started playing football. I think some of them were surprised by how good I was.”
Berahino joined Albion’s academy at the age of 12 following a stint with the Baggies’ Birmingham-based feeder club Phoenix FC.
He was a prolific scorer for Albion’s youth team and hit four goals in eight appearances on loan at Brentford before making his Albion debut as a 19-year-old substitute in last season’s Capital One Cup victory at Yeovil.
A successful loan stint with Peterborough last season was cut short by a knee injury, but he returned with a bang to blast a hat-trick in Albion’s 3-0 win over Newport County last month before making his Premier League debut as a substitute against Swansea on Saturday.
“I just wanted to play and enjoy it,” he said. “I learnt a lot playing in England because it’s a different game in Africa.
“You don’t think so much about playing over there, you just go out and play. Whereas over here I had to learn about tactics and how to manage the ball in certain areas.”
Berahino’s learning continued and led to call-ups for England’s youth teams, representing the Under-16s through Under-20s. He was part of the side that won the Under-17s European Championships.
“I feel like I’ve been given a second chance and I have to grab it with both of my hands,” Berahino said. “I have to go for it – if I fail, that’s what was meant to be, it was God’s plan.
“I appreciate this life. If you told me 10 years ago when I came here that I would be playing for West Bromwich Albion and England, I would not have believed you.”
Berahino, though, still has things to learn – especially after that treble against Newport. “After the game I actually forgot to get the matchball,” he said. “It was my first hat-trick. The captain Chris Brunt went and got it for me.”