Arsenal and England star Bukayo Saka was presented with a wall covered in loving messages of support by Gunners fans at the club’s training centre, leaving the 19-year-old “speechless”.
Saka endured a torrent of racist abuse after England’s 3-2 penalty shootout loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final last month. Following Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho missed spot kicks, Saka saw his saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma, giving the Azzurri the European Championship title.
Like his colleagues Rashford and Sancho, the 19-year-old has received messages of support since the ordeal and was presented with letters, cards and pictures from Gunners fans at London Colney.
Observing the wall, Saka said he felt “speechless” as a result of the love shown.
“How do I even say thank you for all of this?” the 19-year-old added. “Can I just pick it all up and take it home?”
One fan offered to take Saka out for fish and chips with his own pocket money, while another said they’d play football with the Gunners ace and let him win – a generous offer, we know.
This comes after Saka has demonstrated great maturity in bouncing back from such horrific abuse. The 19-year-old held his head high and publicly proclaimed “love will always win,” prompting Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta to heap praise on his starlet.
As previously reported, Arteta claimed Saka won the “respect and admiration” from England and Arsenal fans, and added that this season will be a big one for the 19-year-old.
“The maturity that he has shown at his age is pretty special, I have not seen many of those – and now he is going to have to cope with other things over the next year, it is going to be about expectations,” the Arsenal manager said.
“Can he do it again? Can he raise his game again, can he improve, can he keep making better decision, be more consistent, start to win more regularly? That is the thing that he needs to do that at this very early stage in his career.”
Saka and Arsenal get competitive matters underway on Friday 13 August, kicking off the 2021/22 Premier League season with a trip to newly promoted Brentford.