Bukayo Saka: A Soccer Star to be Watched
Micah Richards, former Manchester City player and presently an enthusiastic soccer pundit, famously claimed that he burst onto the English football scene. The same can be said of young Englishman Bukayo Saka who plays for Arsenal F.C and the England National Team.
A young, inexperienced Saka burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old graduate of Arsenal’s academy, Hale End. Since his Arsenal debut by Spanish manager Unai Emery in November 2018, the young man has progressed impressively.
At the junior level, Saka had predominantly played on the left side of the team, either as a left wingback or as a winger. As he continued to grow and work with current Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, Saka shifted to the right side of the team, essentially becoming the first-choice right winger for his club.
Saka has become a mainstay in the Arsenal team because he is a formidable, energetic, and intelligent young player. In his first full season at Arsenal, he came third in the club’s player of the season standings, but more was to come. In the 2020/2021 season, Arsenal went through a period of turmoil as the club struggled to an 8th-placed finish in the English Premier League.
While that was a low point for the club, manager, and players, a bright spark in the gameplay that season was Saka. In a team of seasoned veterans such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Willian, Granit Xhaka, and David Luiz, Saka, from his style of play and energy stood out. He won Arsenal’s Player of the Season award. The following season, 2021-2022, proved to be Saka’s best yet. Once again, he was Arsenal’s Player of the Season, scoring and creating the most goals.
The 21-22 season saw Saka score against some of the top six teams in England including the Tottenham Hotspurs, Chelsea F.C, Manchester United, and Manchester City. The soccer-watching public felt he deserved to be crowned the best young player in the Premier League that season having played a significant role in his team’s push for a top 4 finish by playing all 38 league games, scoring 11 goals, and creating seven.
More Insight on Bukayo Saka
Saka represented his country in the Euro 2020 competition held in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. England reached the final of Euro 2020 but lost to Italy on penalties. In what became a moment of surprise, disappointment, and racism; Saka was one of three young black Englishmen, including Manchester United players Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford, who bravely stepped up to take the final three penalties for their country.
The surprise came in allowing a young and quite inexperienced Saka to take the final penalty in a crucial moment while more seasoned players were present. The disappointment lay in the fact that all three players missed their penalties, sealing their country’s fate.
The most unfortunate part of this situation is the fact that the young men suffered online abuse and racism for their penalty misses, the majority of it from their countrymen. Black soccer players regularly suffer racist abuse. The English soccer community, however, rallied around Saka and his peers, giving them the support needed in such situations.
Bukayo Saka was born in England to Nigerian parents. He has given credit to his parents for raising him to be the kind of person he is today. “Anything I put my mind to, [my parents] pushed me 100% to give it my all, and to make sure I’m the best I can be,” he told Time Magazine.
An A- student, he attended Edward Betham Church of England Primary School before he later went to Greenford High School. Saka was raised in a Christian family and says he reads the Bible every day. From the outside looking in, he seems to be a young man firmly with his feet on the ground despite his success. He is one of New Balance’s athletes with soccer boots specially designed for his style of play.
Recently, he was in the Call of Duty: Warzone ad, fitting as he calls himself the best gamer at Arsenal. As a 21-year-old, Saka is still in the early stages of his footballing career but has shown his qualities and will certainly get better with time.
The Englishman is being looked at to play a significant role in the upcoming Qatar World Cup.