Saido Berahino will not have long to bask in his Old Trafford glory before the next challenge comes hurtling his way.
The 20-year-old is the talk of football this week after that stunning match-winner against Manchester United, surely the biggest statement of intent by a home-grown Baggies player in the Premier League era.
But club legend Cyrille Regis, who knows at least part of the journey on which the Burundi-born war refugee has now embarked, offered a cautionary note to the youngster after the most exciting week so far in his career .
“I know him well, I like him,” said Regis, a memorable figure in the fabled 5-3 victory at Old Trafford 35 years earlier. “He knows where the goal is and he’s got talent.
“We all love young players coming through the ranks and making their way. He’s been out on loan, he’s been learning and improving and now he’s getting into the team and making an impact. Yes, he’s got genuine talent and we’re beginning to see the fruits of that talent and ability.
“Now he’s still got some way to go. Let’s remember that and for Saido himself there is the big next question – can he go up another level? Can he deal with the expectation that will come now? Can he get a run in the side, a starting position, and hold his place? This the next challenge for him. That’s the next level.
“It’s tough because Albion have now got quite a group of strikers – Anelka, Long, Vydra, Rosenburg, Sessegnon, Anichebe and he’s the young lad coming through. It’s great credit to him that he’s actually got on to the pitch with that sort of competition around him.
“But there’s been no expectancy up until now. It was like me when I first got into the side – there was no pressure. It was all: ‘Well, let’s see how this lad can do.’ There were no great expectations of me.
“But when you then start to score goals and get picked regularly, the expectation rises. Then everyone is looking at you, saying: ‘Come on – show me.’ It happens all through your career.
It’s like signing for Tottenham for £1m and £2m and dealing with that and then signing for Real Madrid for £80m-odd – Gareth Bale has got a whole new level of expectation to deal with.”
Regis believes that Berahino’s traumatic start in life will only enhance his prospects. The England Under-21 forward’s family fled a brutal war in their homeland when he was just 10 after witnessing scenes he is understandably reluctant to discuss.
Birmingham became his adopted home just as the young Regis found himself living on the Portobello Road and then Harlesden after his own family’s exit from the French Guianese city of Maripasoula back in the winter of 1963.
It is no easy adjustment, but Regis believes the tough start in life can be an advantage.
“Definitely,” he said. “I think there’s a strong case to be made that the most successful imports into the English game have been from Africa and their upbringing, what they have left behind, must play a big part in that.
“They feel a great sense of responsibility, both to where they are and where they have come from, which drives them forward. Their parents, their culture, their background, sometimes from the smallest villages you can imagine...all of it combines to be part of their success story. In the right way. It provides an added motivation to do well, there’s no doubt about that.
“But what we want from any young player, regardless of his colour or background, is the ability to produce consistently. That is the really hard part.
“What he has shown so far is that he’s got the talent and the mentality to produce. He’s breaking through. It’s been hard for Albion, don’t forget, to get young players through. We had
Jared Hodgkiss play 30-odd games for the first team a while back but he’s playing in non-League now. It isn’t easy.
“This is where Steve Clarke will be very important to him, in terms of handling him the right way – psychologically, emotionally, Steve’s got to find the right moments for him. That’s more important than anything. But I’m sure he will.”
As for Saturday’s echo of the 1978 win, Regis is as thrilled as the rest of the Albion public.
“Oh, it was fantastic wasn’t it? If I’m honest, I don’t quite think it’s up there with the ’78 game but the quality of the goals has it sitting right next to it.
“Beating Manchester United, especially at Old Trafford, is always special – it’s something every player wants in his career history. It’s a rarity – Albion have had to wait 35 years to do it again. But it’s a DVD moment. All the families of the class of ’78 have got film of their game at home, I can guarantee it. And now all the mums and dads of this team will be exactly the same.”