19-year-old English professional footballer, Bukayo Saka has made history by becoming the youngest Englishman to start a match at the semi-final stage or later of a major tournament.
Saka returned to England starting line-up for Wednesday’s Euro 2020 semi-final against Denmark as Gareth Southgate’s men reached a first major tournament final in 55 years.
Saka missed the 4-0 thrashing of Ukraine in Saturday’s quarter-final due to a minor injury but has impressed in his two starts of the tournament so far against the Czech Republic and Germany.
Southgate opted for a back four rather than switching to five at the back to match up Denmark’s preferred system like he did in the 2-0 last-16 win over Germany.
Doubts that Southgate had made the wrong call by dropping the more experienced Sancho were erased by Saka in the 39th minute. Accelerating onto Harry Kane’s pass, Saka timed his run perfectly to beat the Denmark offside trap.
He raced into the penalty area and whipped a low cross towards Raheem Sterling, with Simon Kjaer’s attempt to block only succeeding in diverting the ball into his own net.
Recall that Saka had said that while he remained proud of his Nigerian heritage he was better disposed to playing for the Three Lions than the Super Eagles:
“But I’ve seen the process of how England are transforming and I think in the future they’re going to do great stuff. I feel like it was right for me to choose England.
“My dad was born here, my mum was born in Nigeria, but they both grew up in Nigeria and met each other in Nigeria.
“They came over and when they came to England it wasn’t easy for them because obviously it’s a new country. It’s really cold for them!
“But they adapted well, and as soon as they had me and my brother they always left everything out the way and put us first.
“Especially my football career, my dad always pushed me, he took me to training on days where sometimes it would take two hours to get to training, so I’ll always be so grateful for my parents for the work they’ve done for me.”