Home Sports Euro 2020: Bukayo Saka becomes youngest English player to start semi-final match

Euro 2020: Bukayo Saka becomes youngest English player to start semi-final match

by OtownGist
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Bukayo Saka has made some history by becoming the youngest Englishman to start a match at the semi-final stage or later of a major tournament.

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Saka returned to England starting line-up for Wednesday’s Euro 2020 semi-final against Denmark as Gareth Southgate’s men reached a first major tournament final in 55 years.

Saka missed the 4-0 thrashing of Ukraine in Saturday’s quarter-final due to a minor injury, but has impressed in his two starts of the tournament so far against the Czech Republic and Germany.

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Southgate opted for a back four rather than switching to five at the back to match up Denmark’s preferred system like he did in the 2-0 last-16 win over Germany.

However, Saka repaid Southgate’s faith in him by delivering a vibrant display in the last-16 victory against Germany before missing Saturday’s quarter-final win against Ukraine with a minor knock suffered in training.

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Jadon Sancho impressed in Saka’s absence, but Southgate opted to recall his precocious youngster rather than keep Manchester United’s new signing in the starting line-up.

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Any doubts that Southgate had made the wrong call by dropping the more experienced Sancho were erased by Saka in the 39th minute.

Accelerating onto Harry Kane’s pass, Saka timed his run perfectly to beat the Denmark offside trap.

He raced into the penalty area and whipped a low cross towards Raheem Sterling, with Simon Kjaer’s attempt to block only succeeding in diverting the ball into his own net.

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Saka was still having an impact when he was surprisingly replaced by Jack Grealish and will surely have a role to play in the final.

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The Arsenal star, who also had the opportunity to represent Nigeria on the national stage, stated that England’s bright future led to his decision to go with The Three Lions.

“I feel like I’m really, really proud of my Nigerian heritage,” said Saka, according to Metro UK.

“I always still watch Nigeria’s games where I can and I wish them all the best and support them all the way.

“But I’ve seen the process of how England are transforming and I think in the future they’re going to do great stuff. I feel like it was right for me to choose England.

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“My dad was born here, my mum was born in Nigeria, but they both grew up in Nigeria and met each other in Nigeria.

“They came over and when they came to England it wasn’t easy for them because obviously it’s a new country. It’s really cold for them!

“But they adapted well, and as soon as they had me and my brother they always left everything out the way and put us first.

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“Especially my football career, my dad always pushed me, he took me to training on days where sometimes it would take two hours to get to training, so I’ll always be so grateful for my parents for the work they’ve done for me.”

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