Bukayo Saka suffered penalty heartbreak against Italy along with Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho in July 2020 as England missed the chance of winning their first trophy in 55 years.
The Arsenal and England midfielder was one of three penalty takers for the Three Lions that missed their spot-kick, along with Rashford and Sancho.
“I knew instantly the type of hate that I was about to receive,” Saka wrote on Instagram after the penalty debacle, adding, “that is a sad reality.”
However, the 20-year-old Arsenal academy graduate has gone from strength to strength since then
And while Nigeria may be missing at the ongoing World Cup in Qatar, the country’s football fans had something to cheer at the Mundial on Monday courtesy of Saka, LENTORLITENEWS Sports Extra reports.
While he may have chosen to represent England, his country of birth, Saka, whose parents hail from Ogun State in Nigeria, put up a show with two goals in the Middle East as the Three Lions beat Iran 6-2 in their opening match of the 2022 World Cup, to the delight of his countrymen in England and Nigeria.
The Hale End graduate netted a stunning volley to help Gareth Southgate’s side take a 3-0 lead into half-time.
There was no sign of England slowing down after the break, and Saka clinched his brace by cutting inside to drill a low finish beyond Iran substitute goalkeeper Hossein Hosseini.
Prior to Monday’s game, Saka’s international career had been defined by his costly penalty miss in England’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy. But his performance in the Middle East buried the ghosts of Euro 2022.
Coming after Bellingham’s header, Saka’s first goal meant England saw two different players aged 21 or younger net in the same World Cup match for the first time in their history.
In the second half, at 21 years and 77 days old, Saka became the youngest player to score twice for England in a World Cup match and also the second youngest player to score twice after Franz Beckenbaur in 1966, who at that time was 20 years and 304 days old.
On is performance, the forward was thrilled to mark his first World Cup game with a brace after missing a penalty in the Euro 2020 final shootout.
“I can’t describe the feeling, it is amazing. I am so happy, so proud and we got the win as well so it is a really special day.
“I feel like I’m in a good place. I have the support from the fans, I really feel the love from the fans, from the coaching staff and from the team-mates.
“That is all I need and I am ready to give 100 per cent. I gave that and I will continue to do that.”
The 21-year-old has enjoyed a meteoric rise since making his Arsenal debut against Vorskla Poltava in November 2018. Four years have passed and Saka is now a key part of a Gunners side that currently sit top of the Premier League.
With the domestic season paused, Saka will be keen on helping England do well in Qatar.
The youngster’ s parents are Nigerian immigrants, who, before he was born, left Nigeria to settle in London in search of a better life and opportunities for their unborn children.
While much is not known about his father, Yomi, his mother, Adenike, is a Chartered Accountant in the United Kingdom. She completed her secondary education at Mayflower Secondary School, Ikenne, and then proceeded to study Veterinary Medicine at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria before relocating to London.
In 2020, while he was 18, the Nigeria Football Federation reportedly approached Saka, who had then represented England at youth levels, to switch his allegiance to Nigeria.
“It’s a tough choice,” Saka told SkySports then. “I’m happy to have represented England at youth level but I’m also proud of my Nigerian heritage from my parents.
“We haven’t been picked by any team so it’s about staying humble and when the time comes we’ll make the decision.”
However, Saka would go on to commit his international future to the Three Lions on 1 October, 2020, after he was called up to the England senior squad for the first time and made his international debut, starting in the 3-0 victory over Wales.