Bukayo Saka has proven that he is not a minor in the current setup of the Three Lions of England in the ongoing Euro 2020. The 19-year-old left-winger had an opportunity to prove himself to the team’s coach, Gareth Southgate and the Arsenal youngster did not disappoint.
When the Euro 2020 started for England on June 13, 2021, when they played their opening match against Croatia, Bukayo Saka was on the bench being excited that he was one of the youngsters that had the opportunity to play in Euro 2020.
He watched from the stands as England defeated Croatia 1-0, thanks to Raheem Sterling’s lone goal. The fast-rising star also watched from the stands as England drew 0-0 with Scotland on June 18.
When the world thought that Bukayo Saka would not make an appearance on the group stage, a reason arose that forced Gareth Southgate to shake up his starting eleven. The reason was linked to the absence of Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell of Chelsea who had to self isolate for being in close contact with their teammate at Chelsea and Scotland midfielder, Billy Gilmour.
When most football fans thought the shake-up would benefit Jadon Sancho more than any other player that has not featured in the tournament, Southgate felt Bukayo Saka was better to start the game.
Hence, for the first time in the tournament, Saka made his appearance. Not just that, he started the game and became the second teenager to ever start for the Three Lions of England in the European Championship. The first player to do so was Wayne Rooney in 2004.
In the Euro 2020 Group D Game which was between England and the Czech Republic, Bukayo Saka proved that he didn’t become a starter by chance. He became the only player in the game to complete a dribble.
More so, in the first 30 minutes of the game, the Arsenal youngster completed 4 dribbles out of five attempts and played a part that led to the only goal of the match which was scored by Raheem Sterling.
At the end of the game, the performance of the 19-year-old versatile footballer was so overwhelming that UEFA had to award him the star of the match despite not playing the full 90 minutes.
Special to play and win this trophy with my family in the stadium tonight ❤️ Most importantly we got the three points and topped the group ! Now onto the knockout stages 👀 pic.twitter.com/bpy3cMyxVY— Bukayo Saka (@BukayoSaka87) June 22, 2021
Aside from being singled out in the game for honor, Saka’s partnership with Aston Villa’s talisman Jack Grealish was hailed as they gave an outstanding account of themselves.
Like Saka, Grealish has not been given enough chance to prove himself in the ongoing Euro 2020 but on Tuesday, June 22, Southgate gave him the chance which he utilized to the fullest. He provided the assist to Sterling which earned England the maximum three points.
The victory helped England to finish top of Group D with 7 points in 3 games. While Croatia took the second spot with 4 points and the Czech Republic were relegated to the third spot with 4 points but with inferior goals difference.
“The manager told me to go out and express myself, to play how I have played for my club all season,” Saka told ITV after the game. “Sometimes that means driving at the opponents and I did that and got us up the pitch.
“It was a good cross from Jack for the goal and Raheem was in the right place at the right time again.”
What a performance from this guy! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/6mlaUnvNsB— England (@England) June 22, 2021
While Sterling, the game’s goalscorer noted: “Jack and Bukayo got in the pockets really well, turned and were positive. It is brilliant to have these players around you who can create goals.
“Different players are needed for different games and those two that came in were massive and did what they needed to do.”
As it stands, England will face the second runner-up in Group F which could be Germany, France, Portugal, or Hungary. The standing for Group F will be decided tonight.