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Bukayo Saka

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Bukayo Saka
Personal information
Date of birth (2001-09-05) 5 September 2001 (age 20)[1]
Place of birth Ealing, England
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)[2]
Position(s) Winger, left-back, midfielder[3]
Club information
Current team
Arsenal
Number 7
Youth career
Greenford Celtic
Watford
0000–2018 Arsenal
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2018– Arsenal 68 (7)
National team
2017 England U16 2 (1)
2017–2018 England U17 9 (0)
2018–2019 England U18 5 (1)
2018– England U19 10 (4)
2020– England U21 1 (0)
2020– England 13 (3)
Honours
Men's football
Representing  England
UEFA European Championship
Runner-up 2020
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 23:35, 25 October 2021 (UTC)
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 22:39, 12 October 2021 (UTC)

Bukayo Ayoyinka T. M. Saka[4] (born 5 September 2001) is an English professional footballer who plays as a winger, left-back or midfielder for Premier League club Arsenal and the England national team.

Early life

Saka was born in Ealing, Greater London to Nigerian parents,[5] and attended Edward Betham Church of England Primary School[6] before Greenford High School,[7] where he gained high grades in his GCSEs, achieving four A*s and three As.[8] Prior to joining Arsenal, Saka played youth football for local club Greenford Celtic.[9] His parents emigrated to London from Nigeria as economic migrants.[10] In an interview, Saka stated the importance of his father in his footballing career: "He's a massive inspiration for me. From when I was young, he always kept me grounded, kept me humble."[11]

His name "Bukayo" originates from the Yoruba language spoken in southern Nigeria, meaning "adds to happiness".[12]

Club career

Having previously played for youth teams of Watford,[13] Saka joined Arsenal's Hale End academy[14] at the age of seven.[15] Once he turned 17 years old, Saka was given a professional contract by Arsenal and promoted to the under-23 side.[14]

On 29 November 2018, Saka made his senior competitive debut for Arsenal in their Europa League match against Vorskla Poltava. He came on as a 68th minute substitute for Aaron Ramsey.[16] On 13 December 2018, Saka made his first full home debut for Arsenal in their Europa League match against Qarabağ.[17] On 1 January 2019, Saka made his debut in the Premier League in a 4–1 win against Fulham after coming on for Alex Iwobi in the 83rd minute.[18] He became the first player born in the 21st century to play in a Premier League match.[19]

2019–20: Breakthrough and FA Cup win

Saka scored his first senior goal on 19 September, curling a fine effort from long range into the corner away to German side Eintracht Frankfurt in the UEFA Europa League. He finished the match with two assists also to his name in a 3–0 win.[20] Saka was rewarded for his efforts in Germany with his first Premier League start, in a 3–2 home win over Aston Villa. He then registered an assist for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, setting up Arsenal's equaliser in a 1–1 draw at Old Trafford against Manchester United.[21]

Following injuries to Sead Kolašinac and Kieran Tierney, Saka began to establish himself as a regular in the Arsenal first team at left-back. On 27 January 2020, he scored the opening goal in Arsenal's 2–1 FA Cup fourth round victory at Bournemouth after finishing a 22-pass move, as well as assisting the second goal, scored by Eddie Nketiah. The goal was later voted goal of the round by the BBC.[22] After a two-week mid-season break, Saka marked his return to action at home to Newcastle United with an assist for Nicolas Pépé's goal.[23] He then set up Alexandre Lacazette for his ninth assist of the season in a 1–0 win at Olympiacos in the UEFA Europa League.[24] He then hit double figures for assists that season after crossing in for Nketiah in a thrilling 3–2 home win against Everton.[25] Additional strong performances against Portsmouth and West Ham United further strengthened his grip in the first team.[citation needed]

On 1 July 2020, Saka signed a new long-term contract with Arsenal.[26] Head coach Mikel Arteta praised Saka and said: "I think he represents every value that this football club stands for. He has come through the academy, and earned his respect with hard work and accountability and you can see the progression that he is having as a player but as well as a person."[27] He scored his first Premier League goal for the club against Wolverhampton Wanderers, with a half volley beating goalkeeper Rui Patrício, in a 2–0 win.[28] He was an unused substitute as Arsenal defeated Chelsea 2–1 to win their 14th FA Cup.[29] He came third in the vote for the Arsenal Player of the Season award in the 2019–20 season.[30]

2020–21: Arsenal Player of the Season

On 29 August 2020, Saka was in the starting 11 and registered an assist in the 2020 FA Community Shield, which Arsenal clinched a 5–4 victory over Liverpool in the penalty shoot-out after the match was 1–1 after 90 minutes.[31] On 26 December 2020, he scored his third Premier League goal on his 40th appearance in a 3–1 win over Chelsea.[32] Due to his stellar performance in December 2020, he was later voted as the Player of the Month on the Arsenal official website.[33] He was voted as the Player of the Month again in January, having scored three goals and provided one assist in six appearances across all competitions, in which his goal against West Brom was voted as the runner-up of Arsenal's Goal of the Month.[34][35] Saka was named Player of the Month for the third time in February after contributing one goal and two assists, claiming 48 percent of the votes.[36]

On 6 March 2021, Saka made his 50th Premier League appearance for Arsenal in a 1–1 draw against Burnley; he is the second youngest player in club history to reach that milestone.[37] On 15 April, Saka scored a goal and helped Arsenal to a 4–0 victory over Slavia Prague in the quarter final of the Europa League. After his fine performance, he was named as the Europa League Player of the Week.[38][39]

International career

Saka represented England at under-16, under-17,[40] under-18,[41] under-19 and under-21 level.[42]

In May 2018, he was included in the England under-17 squad as they hosted the 2018 UEFA European Under-17 Championship.[43] The hosts were eliminated by the Netherlands at the semi-final stage on a penalty shoot-out, although Saka scored his spot kick.[44]

In September 2018, Saka scored the winner for the England under-18 team in an away game against France.[41] In November 2018, Saka received his first call-up to the England under-19 team.[45] He scored on his debut at that age level in a qualifier against Moldova.[46]

On 4 September 2020, Saka made his debut for England U21s during a 6–0 victory away to Kosovo.[47] On 1 October, Saka was called up to the England senior squad for the first time,[48] and made his international debut as one of the starters in a 3–0 victory over Wales.[49] Having played four times for England, Saka is now tied to England internationally and can no longer represent Nigeria.[50]

On 1 June 2021, he was named in the 26-man squad for UEFA Euro 2020. On 2 June, in a friendly against Austria, Saka scored his first senior international goal, the only goal in a 1–0 win.[51] He started in England's third Euro 2020 group stage match on 22 June against the Czech Republic, and was named the man of the match.[52] On 11 July, in the tournament final against Italy, Saka was brought on as a substitute for Kieran Trippier. Following full time and extra time, Saka was chosen to take the team's fifth penalty during the subsequent shoot-out, his first penalty kick at senior level.[53] Saka's effort was saved by goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and, as a result, Italy won the shoot-out and the tournament.[54] Saka faced racist abuse online after missing the penalty.[55][56] On 15 July, Saka said that he "knew instantly the kind of hate" he was going to receive after his penalty was saved, adding: "... and that is a sad reality that your powerful platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages."[57]

Career statistics

Club

As of match played 22 October 2021
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League FA Cup EFL Cup Europe Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Arsenal U21 2018–19[58] 4[a] 1 4 1
Arsenal 2018–19[59] Premier League 1 0 1 0 0 0 2[b] 0 4 0
2019–20[60] Premier League 26 1 4 1 2 0 6[b] 2 38 4
2020–21[61] Premier League 32 5 2 0 2 0 9[b] 2 1[c] 0 46 7
2021–22[62] Premier League 9 1 0 0 2 1 11 2
Total 68 7 7 1 6 1 17 4 1 0 99 13
Career total 68 7 7 1 6 1 17 4 5 1 103 14
  1. ^ Appearances in EFL Trophy
  2. ^ a b c Appearances in UEFA Europa League
  3. ^ Appearance in FA Community Shield

International

As of match played 12 October 2021[63]
Appearances and goals by national team and year
National team Year Apps Goals
England 2020 4 0
2021 9 3
Total 13 3
As of match played 12 October 2021
England score listed first, score column indicates score after each Saka goal[63]
List of international goals scored by Bukayo Saka
No. Date Venue Cap Opponent Score Result Competition Ref.
1 2 June 2021 Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough, England 5  Austria 1–0 1–0 Friendly [64]
2 5 September 2021 Wembley Stadium, London, England 11  Andorra 4–0 4–0 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification [65]
3 9 October 2021 Estadi Nacional, Andorra la Vella, Andorra 12  Andorra 2–0 5–0 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification [66]

Honours

Arsenal

England

Individual

References

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  2. ^ "Bukayo Saka: Overview". Premier League. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
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  61. ^ "Games played by Bukayo Saka in 2020/2021". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
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External links