Holder three times since the start of the Euro in an England team full of attacking talents, Bukayo Saka is undoubtedly the biggest surprise concocted by Gareth Southgate since the start of the tournament. And it’s not over, since the young prodigy, one of the few players able to sketch a smile on the faces of Arsenal fans in recent months, has every chance of making his debut against Italy again. this Sunday evening in the final (9 p.m.). Watch out, thrill player.
With almost every publication of the scoresheet since the match against Czechia, the same astonishment on the faces of the English supporters: Bukayo Saka is the holder. Launched in the third group match against Souček and his friends, the kid from London Colney, the Arsenal training center, was able to be decisive to be renewed against Germany and Denmark. In the meantime, he let Jadon Sancho take a little light during the demonstration against Ukraine, just to treat a small pain in his ankle. Again decisive in the semi-finals, here he is hoping to play the detonators for the first final of his country in a major tournament for 55 years.
« Little chili » spiced up
“It started with Auba [Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang]. He said it in French. We were doing a finishing drill in training, and he kept saying it, and I kept scoring, I was shooting so hard and he was calling me “little chili”. » A nickname that has remained attached to the young nugget of north London, as he himself recently explained to the press. It must be said that the young man of 19 years has applied to raise somewhat the taste of the season of Gunners farther and farther from the score. This exercise confirmed in passing the promises made since his first appearance in red and white, one evening in November 2018 against Vorskla Poltava in the Europa League. Since then, Saka is quite simply Arsenal’s best passer over the period, with 21 caviars delivered from his right wing.
To the point that Emirates Stadium fans sometimes name their team Bukayo Saka FC as a mockery of the poor performance of several executives. The beautiful story of little Bukayo begins on the grounds of his club Greenford Celtic, where he was spotted at the age of seven. “I had invitations from Tottenham, Chelsea, Fulham and Watford, but my only choice was Arsenal, remembers the boy. I liked the way they played, so the choice was easy for me. I trained in Hale End (the training center for Gunners, Editor’s note) and I signed at the age of nine. ”
And very quickly, everyone is under the spell. Even Thierry Henry, who came to train within the academy between 2015 and 2016. “He always wanted the ball and he was brave, declared the French striker to Goal. It was too early to say how good he would be, but when I saw him win in the first team after I left, I thought to myself: “Wow, this is amazing.” I always liked the kid’s attitude and his commitment. What I like about him is that he cares about his club and will do anything to make the team win. You have to respect that. ”
His tenure against Denmark on Wednesday night allowed him, at 19 years, 10 months and 2 days, to become the youngest English player to start a match of such magnitude under the liquette of the Three Lions. Not so anecdotal when we know the precocity of the one who should celebrate his eighth cape this Sunday evening for what is already one of the most significant matches of his career. It was on October 8, during a friendly against Wales, that Gareth Southgate decided to put it to the test. Verdict: 90 minutes which call 232 on the three meetings of the following gathering, in November.
The rise of steps four to four continues in early June. In the list of 26, Saka scores his first goal in preparation against Austria and gives himself the right to savor: “This is probably the biggest moment of my career so far. To mark for his country, we dream of it when we are children. It’s an incredible feeling and I hope I can experience that feeling many more times. ” And why not from the final against Italy? The opportunity should in any case be given to him, once again.
In any case, seeing his name once again written among the eleven holders on the scoresheet would no longer be a surprise for José Mourinho. “I played an 18-year-old in a Champions League final (Carlos Alberto) and he is still the youngest player to score at this level. No problemexclaimed the Portuguese in the talkSPORT podcast. Southgate had no problem doing this, not only with Saka but also with other players giving them chances to play. The kid proves my theory, which is that experience has nothing to do with age. ” Here is another who would see himself crowned with his country from his 19 years. And why not complete the success of his family with a remote-controlled strike from the entrance to the surface?
By Tom Binet