Arsenal have offered their unwavering support to Bukayo Saka after the home-grown 19-year-old suffered penalty shootout heartache and racist abuse during and after England’s Euro 2020 final defeat.
A hot prospect was introduced off the bench by Gareth Southgate in a heavyweight encounter with Italy at Wembley that saw the Three Lions looking to bring 55 years of international hurt to a close.
It was not to be, with Saka one of three players to miss from the spot after a 1-1 draw, and the fallout to that contest has been all too predictable, with certain individuals being singled out for unfair criticism.
Arsenal have sounded a reassuring message to Saka, posting on their official website: “Last night, we saw Bukayo Saka reach the Euro 2020 final at the age of 19 years old.
“Bukayo has been with us since he was seven and the whole club couldn’t have been prouder to see him represent England throughout the tournament. You could feel it right across the club.
“Last night we witnessed the leadership and character we’ve always known and loved in Bukayo. However, this feeling of pride quickly turned to sorrow at the racist comments our young player was subjected to on his social media platforms after the final whistle.
“Once again, we are sad to have to say we condemn the racism of a number black players. This cannot continue and the social media platforms and authorities must act to ensure this disgusting abuse to which our players are subjected on a daily basis stops now.
“We have processes in place internally at Arsenal to ensure our players are supported both emotionally and practically on this issue but sadly there is only so much we can do.
“Our message to Bukayo is: hold your head high, we are so very proud of you and we cannot wait to welcome you back home to Arsenal soon.”
Saka signed a four-year contract with Arsenal in January 2020 and is fast closing in on 100 appearances for the club – with that mark set to be hit in 2021-22.
He is also up to nine senior caps for England, with four of those picked up at Euro 2020.
Lively displays were put in across group stage and knockout outings for the Three Lions, with Gareth Southgate finding another exciting youngster to form part of a long-term project.
Questions have been asked of why Saka was forced to step up for his country in a major international final, with more experienced stars alongside him, but the versatile youngster has come through a character-building summer and will be expected to bounce back stronger.