August 4, 2021

‘Not many players would dare to do that’ – Arsenal star Saka has Ozil’s ‘respect’ after Euro 2020 penalty

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The Gunners teenager missed from the spot in a final shootout with Italy, but a former team-mate is tipping a “great talent” for the top

Mesut Ozil has aired his “respect” for former Arsenal team-mate Bukayo Saka, with the former Gunners playmaker saying “not many players would dare” to take a penalty in a major international final.

A highly-rated 19-year-old did just that at Euro 2020, but saw his spot-kick saved as England suffered shootout heartache against Italy at Wembley Stadium.

Inevitable criticism has come Saka’s way on the back of said outing, despite all that he achieved in the tournament prior to that, but he continues to be backed by current and ex-colleagues to reach the very top of the game.

What has been said?

Ozil, who left Emirates Stadium for Fenerbahce in January, has told Sky Sports of Saka’s strong character and exciting potential: “I felt very much for Bukayo. I know from my own experience how it feels to miss a penalty.

“In a final, as the last one, to take on the responsibility of an entire nation as a young player – respect. Not many players would dare to do that.”

The World Cup winner added: “Bukayo is a modest young player. I have gotten to know him as a very determined young man who works very hard for his dream and does everything he can to achieve it.

“Bukayo is blessed with a talent that not many have.

“If he remains as humble and determined as he already is, I am 100 per cent convinced that he has a great future ahead of him and can become a great player.

“He’s really a great talent, and I’m sure that there are going to be many more big matches for the English national team for him in the future.”

Will abuse end?

Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford also missed from the spot as England saw a 55-year wait for international glory extended against the Azzurri.

They, like Saka, have been subjected to racist abuse by online trolls, but all three have vowed not to let hate win and to continue the fight against prejudice and discrimination in modern society.

Ozil also forms part of that cause, with a man who has attracted plenty of criticism himself down the years adding: “Unfortunately there will always be a small part of our community that racially insults and threatens players.

“We should focus much more on the positive messages that keep players strong.”

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