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Arsenal and England star Bukayo Saka has opened up on how both club and country supported him after his Euro 2020 final crucial penalty miss.
The Three Lions were taken to a penalty shootout by Italy but Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho all missed penalties, resulting in the trio receiving a wave of racial and online abuse, as England suffered heartbreak in the final. The 21-year-old was one of the breakout stars of the tournament and went on to enjoy a strong season with the Gunners and has continued his brilliant form into the 2022/23 campaign.
Saka is now considered one of the brightest English talents and showed his quality once again in his World Cup debut against Iran, scoring two brilliant goals for Gareth Southgate’s side. A fine volleyed finish in the first half was followed up by some clever footwork and a composed strike into the bottom corner, making Saka almost certain to start against the USA on Friday.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, a day after Saka scored twice in England’s 6-2 win against Iran to move top of Group B, the Arsenal star was asked how his penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final has impacted him and how he has overcome it. The 21-year-old 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.”
Saka then weighed in on the debate around England captain Harry Kane being denied the chance to wear the OneLove armband by FIFA. The Arsenal star responded: “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.”