Sky Sports exclusive: West Brom striker Brandon Thomas-Asante talks overhead kicks, working under Carlos Corberan and his Premier League dream. Watch Bristol City vs West Brom live on the Sky Sports Football Red Button and Sky Sports app on Boxing Day; Kick-off 3pm
EFL Editor @simgholam
Monday 19 December 2022 13:43, UK
One minute Brandon Thomas-Asante was a League Two player with Salford City.
The next he was being thrown on for West Brom in the Championship to try and help salvage a result at home against Burnley. And he managed it, scoring an equaliser in the seventh minute of added time.
It was a whirlwind and a dream.
“I was just happy being here in the first place!” he tells Sky Sports with a smile. “But sometimes things just work out that way.
“It was amazing because things had moved so quickly. I found out on the Tuesday about the move, and by the Friday I came on and scored my first goal.
“The day before I saw the stadium for the first time that I’d seen on TV growing up and I was doing interviews talking about how great it would be to score there in front of the fans. The next day it happened.
“In a sense, it was probably not the easiest way to go about it. But being able to get games under my belt at Salford at the start of the season probably helped me be ready for it because it meant the manager knew he could throw me on.
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“I know a load of players who have the ability but haven’t been given the opportunity I have. I’m super grateful and I just want to make the most of it, because I know it’s happened for a reason.”
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Thomas-Asante has navigated his move to the Championship well amid what was a tricky start to the season, with four goals in 14 appearances (and seven starts) so far – including a stunning effort against Stoke that won him the Sky Bet Goal of the Month award for November.
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“I’d felt ready to make the jump for a while, but when I got the goal [against Burnley] I didn’t think, ‘oh this is going to be easy’. But then when I made my first start I didn’t feel out of place.
“I knew there was work to do but I always had that belief in myself. I’ve really enjoyed adapting to the higher level, but it’s still in process now day by day and there is still a lot of progress to make.
“The game is a lot faster, the ball moves a lot quicker. But I was really looking forward to the challenge of coming here. I’d felt ready for a while to test myself at this level. I’ve given myself time to continue improving and sharpening up. There’s a lot more to come. I’m just starting up.”
Thomas-Asante has also had to deal with a change in manager at The Hawthorns, with Steve Bruce being replaced by Carlos Corberan after a dreadful start to the season for the Baggies.
Things are looking up now. Five wins on the bounce either side of the World Cup break has lifted them from the bottom of the table to five points off the play-offs.
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It is the former Huddersfield boss’ attention to detail that has impressed the striker most.
“The calibre of managers at a big club like West Brom is always something to be excited about,” says Thomas-Asante. “I’ll always have respect for Steve Bruce. He was really good for me and I’m grateful for him for bringing me through the door.
“Things are really exciting now. The manager has a love for the game. His tactics, his analysing of the opposition and the understanding he has of his own players. He’s so detailed in everything and it really bodes well for everyone, especially the younger players who want to soak up information and add it to our games.
“For me as a striker, I’ve really taken heed of what he’s saying, with the intensity of running, different movements, linking up with team-mates and such. He’s really been able to master things that other people leave to happen themselves.”
Despite the fact the turnaround had already started in November with three wins on the spin, it didn’t stop Corberan putting the players through a rigorous training schedule during the mid-season break to take things up a notch further.
The improvements have shone through in their comeback win at Sunderland and comfortable victory over Rotherham since.
“The early mornings didn’t always go down well!” jokes Thomas-Asante. “But it had to be done.
“All the boys know we weren’t happy with our position when he came in so we’ll do whatever it takes to move in the right direction.
“It was really intense. There were some double sessions, lots of meetings, theory, practice and learning what needs to be done to go up the table and get promoted. The work we did is bearing fruit now.
“He’s got a holistic plan and he brings it to us in bitesize chunks. One day it’s more defensive structure, one day it’s more on attacking patterns.
“No one is under any illusion that anything other than promotion is what’s on everyone’s mind, but the way we go about it is much more methodical.
“With the group we have, when it all meshes together, I think we can be a really formidable force in the league.”
Thomas-Asante describes his strike against Stoke as the best of his professional career so far, but he wants to become a great goal scorer, as well as a scorer of great goals.
“I’m happy to have won the award but I want to up the quantity of my goals as well as the quality,” he says. “If I was sitting here as the top scorer in the league I’d be a lot happier.”
And if he can add more goals to his game then he could help both him and the club get to where they want to be.
“None of us want to settle in the Championship, we want to be Premier League players,” he says. “We’ve taken steps in the right direction but we’ve got more to do.
“I want to be the best I can be and here is a really great breeding ground to do that and grow. I’ve got a lot of faith in myself, I just need to keep on working hard.
“I’ve got a lot to do in my career and I’m willing to do what it takes to get to where I want to be.”
And you do get the sense from speaking to Thomas-Asante that he has the drive and motivation to get wherever he wants.
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