Arsenal youngster, Bukayo Saka, on Monday, November 21, 2022, entered into the history book as the first England player of Nigerian descent to score on a World Cup debut.
Saka is arguably the first Nigerian player to player to dorn the Three Lions’ jersey at the World Cup.
The 21-year-old was named the Man of the Match in England’s 6-2 thumping of Iran their Group B opener at the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Saka scored on either side of the halves in the match staged at the Khalifa International Stadium, Doha.
On October 8, 2020, the footballer officially played his first game for the English national team against in a 3-0 victory against Wales at Wembley.
Three first-time scorers gave England the win.
Saka was handed a starting shirt in the international friendly and the 19-year old did not disappoint as he got a warm embrace from manager Gareth Southgate when he was finally pulled off in the 76th minute for fellow Arsenal colleague Maitland-Niles.
The Arsenal star maybe enjoying rave reviews from the English media and praises of English people now, but like most players of Nigerian descent who have represented the Three Lions in the past, he has experienced his own fair share of racism.
Bukayo Saka alongside Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho were targets of racial slurs after England’s Euro 2020 loss to Italy. They all missed penalties during England’s 3-2 loss on spot kicks.
Since then, the youngster has risen to become one of the most important players in the Three Lions squad. He was named England’s Male Player of the Year 2021.
Unlike his fellow England players of Nigerian descent like Fikayo Tomori, Tammy Abraham, John Fashanu, Gabriel Agbolahon and a host of others whose international careers were dwarfed by limited playing time, Saka has become a starter in Gareth Southgate’s team.
The midfield prodigy was born on 5th September, 2001, in London, England, to Nigerian parents of Yoruba origin.
Saka began his footballing career at Greenford Celtic, before joining Watford youth team. And later Arsenal. He joined Arsenal youth team in 2008 and was promoted to the senior team in 2018.
From 2017, he represented England at all youth levels, before progressing to the senior team, the Three Lions in 2020.
Bukayo Saka has bounced back from the heartbreak of the Euro 2020 loss in his senior debut year, and he is now flying high in his World Cup debut in Qatar.
The 21-year-old will hope to continue his goalscoring form when they face USA in their second Group B game on Friday, 25th November, 2022.