Arsenal and England Three Lions forward Bukayo Saka has praised the Gunners and the national team for their show of support after his unfortunate penalty miss in the final of the 2020 UEFA European Championship.
Saka, alongside Marcus Rashford and Jason Sancho all missed their penalties as England fell to Italy on home soil in the final of the Euro tournament. The backlash that followed was not pretty, as racist English fans tore into them and their families for their misses.
The incident, which cost England their first international title since 1966, deeply affected the players involved but they got all the support they needed to bounce back. Saka, especially, has developed even better and the Englishman of Nigerian heritage has credited the national team and his club, Arsenal, for helping him move past that incident.
Speaking after his man of the match performance against Iran, Saka said: “Obviously it [Euro 2020 final penalty miss] was quite a while ago now.
“It’s a moment that’s been with me and will be with me forever. I’m so blessed and so grateful to have coaching staff, not only here with England and Gareth but also at Arsenal, my friends and family who put their arm around me.
“The love from my teammates and the nation who supported me and helped me get back into a good place. When I feel that love from everyone around me, it’s good for me because it gives me the confidence and belief in myself to go again.
“That’s why every time I wear the England shirt I always give 110% and do my best to make the nation proud.”
The media then sought his opinion on the controversy surrounding the One Love armband.
A few LGBTQ+ friendly countries decided to sport the armband in support of the much maligned community, whose presence is unwelcome in Qatar. However, after a few sanctions were announced by FIFA with respect to the team’s respecting the laws of the land, England and the other teams decided not to wear the armband.
The 21-year-old gave a diplomatic answer when posed the question. “Since Monday we haven’t had a lot of time to discuss it but I’m sure we’ll get the time to discuss and make a decision and maybe say what we have to say,” he said.
England will be in action against the USA on Friday for the second round of group stage matches and will be looking forward to finally getting one over their rivals on the global stage.