On September 5, 2021, Bukayo Saka turned 20-year-old and it was the same day he had to return to the Wembley Stadium to play a World Cup qualification match.
The qualification match was Saka’s first time at the stadium since July 11, 2021, when he missed England’s last spot-kick that handed the Euro 2020 title to Italy. This time around, he left the stadium with his shoulders raised high not in tears.
Saka’s kick was not the most talked-about because he was 19-year-old, it was the most famous miss because he took the last kick of the tournament. Hence, after the tournament, fans of the Three Lions of England subjected him to racist attacks and social medial trolls.
However, when the Premier League’s 2021-2022 season resumed, football fans tried to encourage him by often applauding him before the kick-off of any match he was involved in.
The goodwill followed him to the FIFA World Cup qualifiers between England and Andorra on Sunday. Coach Gareth Southgate decided to start Arsenal’s winger and he didn’t disappoint.
Before the match kicked off, Bukayo Saka was given a warm welcome by supporters of the Three Lions of England. The show of love continued throughout the game.
That encouraged the Arsenal’s star to give a very good account of himself to the extent he provided an assist for Jesse Lingard’s second goal. Saka got his goal in the 85th minute to end the game 4-0.
After the game, Bukayo Saka told ITV that the assist, the goal, and the pleasant reception from the supporters were the “perfect” birthday presents for him.
“I am really happy with the reception everyone gave me”, he added. “It really shows how proud they are of me and I think that meant a lot for me and it made me want to give my all.
“It really made a difference. Even now, I can hear so many fans chanting my name. It means everything. It makes me believe that everyone supports me through different things.
“This is what I dreamed about. Playing at Wembley in front of a full crowd and my family, scoring on my 20th birthday. I am really happy.”
Thanks everyone for your messages today and to everyone in the stadium for the special atmosphere. I cannot ask for a better 20th birthday ! 🥳❤️ pic.twitter.com/oGGbBesOdJ— Bukayo Saka (@BukayoSaka87) September 5, 2021
While coach Gareth Southgate said: “He [Saka] got a fabulous reception, before the game, during the game,” the England manager told ITV.
“You can see how popular he is with the rest of the team as well.
“I hope it is closure but I don’t think there’s a player in that dressing room who doesn’t think positively about what he did all summer.”
Bukayo Saka is expected to turn up for another World Cup qualifier in less than three days. This time around, it is between England and Poland on Wednesday, September 8, 2021. The match is expected to kick off at 19:45.