• July 31, 2021

Exclusive: Bukayo Saka must be proud of his England impact and forget penalty woe as former Arsenal star hails ‘immense’ wonderkid who still has potential to get even better

 Exclusive: Bukayo Saka must be proud of his England impact and forget penalty woe as former Arsenal star hails ‘immense’ wonderkid who still has potential to get even better


Johan Djourou has urged Arsenal star Bukayo Saka to be ‘proud’ of the player and person he has become.

Saka excelled at this summer’s European Championships for England but has since been subjected to racist abuse online – alongside Three Lions teammates Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford – after the trio missed crucial penalties against Italy in the Euro 2020 final.

Saka had a stunning Euro 2020 and will be a huge player for Arsenal in the coming years

AFP

Saka had a stunning Euro 2020 and will be a huge player for Arsenal in the coming years

The 19-year-old was visibly upset at full-time after his missed spot-kick handed Italy the trophy and had to be consoled by his teammates, England manager Gareth Southgate, as well as his family.

The teenager posted a statement in the week saying he was ‘grateful’ for the outpouring of support he had received and slammed Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for ‘not doing enough’ to stop racist messages from being sent on their platforms.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has also backed Saka, who was named as the club’s Player of the Season back in May after an impressive campaign which saw him net seven goals in 46 appearances in all competitions.

Former Gunners defender Djourou believes Saka showed plenty of courage to take such a critical penalty in England’s biggest game in 55 years and says the versatile teenager shouldn’t have too much pressure placed on his shoulders, given he has not reached his full potential.

Saka was loved by everyone in the England camp at Euro 2020

Getty

Saka was loved by everyone in the England camp at Euro 2020

Speaking exclusively to talkSPORT, former Switzerland international Djourou said: “People are looking for those kind of moments and just waiting for that.

“What I would say to Bukayo – and to all the other players – is to be proud of who you are. That is a reality because they are playing for England, not the ones who are putting monkey or saying whatever.

“[Be] proud of what you have achieved, [considering] where those guys have come from and what they have had to go through every day to be able to play at that level and to be able to play in a Euros final and take a penalty. I can only put my thumbs up to that.

“That’s what I would say to him; to be proud of that moment and of course, you’re going to take a hit because you missed a penalty and because of those messages you think you’re going to have more responsibility, but you have done your job.

Saka was superb for Arsenal last season and is set to be key again for manager Arteta

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Saka was superb for Arsenal last season and is set to be key again for manager Arteta

“The character that they have to have to take that penalty, even if they’ve been chosen or not, will never be forgotten. That’s courage and that should be given to them.

“Bukayo has been a player and has been balling. He will still be great and will still progress. He has been a player with a lot of creativity and he is still learning, so that is a good thing.

“He has a lot of potential; he’s very direct, he can take care of the ball and he has a good eye for a pass.

“He’s a great player. I wouldn’t say he’s the finished product, as that would be putting too much pressure on him, but what I would say is that for his young age, he has been immense.”





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