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Mesut Ozil has expressed his “respect” for former Arsenal team-mate Bukayo Saka

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22 Jul 2021
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Bukayo Saka

The former Arsenal playmaker says “not many players would dare” to take a penalty in a major international final.

Ozil felt very much for Bukayo

Mesut Ozil has expressed his “respect” for former Arsenal team-mate Bukayo Saka. The former Arsenal playmaker says “not many players would dare” to take a penalty in a major international final. The 19-year-old top-rated player did just that at Euro 2020 but saw his penalty kick saved as England suffered shootout heartache with Italy at Wembley Stadium. The inevitable criticism comes Saka’s way on the back of said outing, despite everything he has achieved in the tournament so far. Still, he continues to support current and ex-colleagues to reach the very top of the game. Ozil, who left the Gunners for Fenerbahce in January, told reporters about Saka’s strong character and exciting potential: “I felt very much for Bukayo. I know from my own experience what it was like to miss a penalty.”

Saka is a modest young player

“In the final, as the last one, to take on the responsibility of the whole nation as a young player – respect. Not many footballers would dare to do that.” Ozil added: “Bukayo is a modest young player. I got to know him as a very determined young man who works very hard for his dream and does everything in his power to achieve it. Bukayo is blessed with a talent that does not have many. If he will stay as humble and determined as he already is, I am 100 per cent sure that he has a great future ahead of him and can become an amazing player. He’s a great talent, and I’m sure there will be many more big games for England for him in the future.”

Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford also missed the spot as England saw a 55-year wait for international glory extended against Italy. They, admire Saka, have been subjected to racist abuse by online trolls. Still, all three have vowed not to let hate win and to continue the fight against prejudice and discrimination in modern society. Ozil is also part of this case and a man who has drawn a lot of criticism himself down the years, adding: “Unfortunately, there will always be a small part of our community that offend and threaten players. We need to focus more on the positive messages that keep players strong.”

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