Almost a week after Arsenal star, Bukayo Saka, missed the vital penalty for England against Italy in the Euro 2020 final, the furore has finally died down.
To his absolute credit, the youngster has dealt with the fall out of defeat as professionally as might be expected, and the hope will be that he’s allowed to get on with his club career without consistent issues at away grounds.
Former Gunners legend, Michael Thomas, was just one of many to send a message of support to Saka, whilst also criticising England manager, Gareth Southgate, for a crazy decision in relation to the shoot-out.
“I think Southgate got a lot of things right during the tournament but in the final he made a couple of mistakes,” he told CaughtOffside.
“We scored very early on and Italy couldn’t handle the pace of the game for the opening 15-20 minutes and I feel like we didn’t make the most of that.
“This then changed to a more negative approach and the way they kept the ball was always going to make our players become more wary and tired towards the end.
“The penalties are always 50-50 and I am a believer that the underdogs always have an advantage going into them but Southgate did something I thought was crazy.
“If a player hasn’t been on the pitch for the entirety of a game then it is a massive ask to put them in a pressurised situation like that regardless of the players wishes.
“The players on the pitch should have been the ones to take responsibility and take the pens.
“Lastly I am not sure how the penalty takers were picked but I think no matter how much training you’ve had on them, in a game situation this is a different feeling. Ask the players who want one and then go from there.
“Bukayo is an amazing young man both on and off the field. He is fearless and has a big character. He has all the right people around him and I am 100% certain that he will be at his best after a much deserved break.
“England and Arsenal have a real gem of a player.”
Despite being just 19 years of age, Saka has already shown the mental strength required for club and country to go right to the very top.
It’s a given that his team-mates will do their upmost to lift him up at every opportunity, and there’ll certainly be much more to come from a player who is destined for greatness.