Unlike in the past, when most players with Nigerian heritage are fringe players with the English national team, Bukayo Saka appears to have broken the jinx, and he is indeed living the dream.
Nigeria football officials courted the 19-year-old Arsenal winger to play for the Super Eagles but he chose the Three Lions and scored his first senior goal in the warm-up win over Austria last week.
While it remains to be seen if Gareth Southgate includes Saka in the starting line-up to face Croatia in England’s Euro 2020 opener at Wembley on Sunday, Saka looks certain to play more than a bit-part role in his first major senior international tournament.
Saka enjoyed a fine personal season in a disappointing campaign for the Gunners and he is hopeful he could keep on the magic with England at Euro 2020.
Saka’s first name could also be a sign of how much he will enjoy being part of the Euros. “It means God has added joy to my life. Joy, happiness, the same,” he said of the name Bukayo.
“I am really excited, happy to be here. I have been given an amazing opportunity to play in a major tournament so every opportunity I get I am just going to give it my best.” Saka was quoted in Yahoo Sports.
Despite being accorded his Arsenal debut during the reign of Unai Emery, who was sacked, he has flourished under Mikel Arteta, Saka puts his development in north London down to former Arsenal U-18 coach, Freddie Ljungberg. “He has been really good with me,” Saka said of Ljungberg.
The left-footed ace can adapt to either an outside left or inside right forward, or even at left back-adaptability that has helped him snag a place in Southgate’s squad.