Winter 2022

Bukayo Saka starring for England at first World Cup, says he chooses 'to put my faith in God'

Part of England men’s national team winger Bukayo Saka’s daily routine is reading his Bible at night, and he’s continued that ritual while starring at the World Cup in Qatar. His three goals are tied for the second-most in the tournament through the round of 16.

>> Subscribe to Sports Spectrum Magazine for more stories where sports and faith connect <<

Ahead of England’s quarterfinal showdown with France, Saka was asked about his daily Bible reading and talked about the confidence he draws from his faith in God.

“For me, it’s really important to obviously have the presence of God in me all the time, and it gives me more confidence that God’s plan is perfect so I can go on the pitch and know that God has my back,” he said in a press conference. “The main thing for me is just keeping my faith, just having faith in God so I don’t need to be worried or nervous about any outcomes.”

Though the 21-year-old made his professional debut for Arsenal less than four years ago (Dec. 13, 2018), he has already established himself as a key player for both club and country. He scored twice in England’s opening World Cup match — a 6-2 win over Iran — and again in a 3-0 win over Senegal in the round of 16.

That last goal made him the first player in Arsenal’s storied history to score in the knockout stage of a men’s World Cup for England, according to Squawka.

During his media availability on Monday, Saka acknowledged the pressure that comes with playing in a World Cup and identified his relationship with God as one of the main things that helps him find peace on the sport’s biggest stage.

“It’s my first World Cup,” he said. “I can start worrying about different things and different outcomes, but instead, I just choose to put my faith in God.”

Saka was raised in a Christian home and has not been shy about sharing his faith as he’s emerged as one of the most promising young players in the world. He picked his Bible as one of the 10 things he can’t live without in an interview with GQ and often references his faith on social media.

“When we were growing up we were taught by our parents to have faith in God,” Saka told GQ, “and when you’re younger you don’t fully understand. But throughout life, you keep exercising your faith, so when you get into different challenges, you decide, ‘This time I’m going to trust God,’ and God comes through for you. That’s how it kept building and building for me, so I can be confident and go into places knowing that God’s got me.”

Following Sunday’s victory over Senegal, he posted a picture on Instagram of him pointing to the sky with the caption, “Faith. Never ever lose it.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by God’s Child 😇 (@bukayosaka87)

Whenever England’s World Cup journey comes to an end, Saka will return to an Arsenal team leading the Premier League by five points. He’s started all 14 of Arsenal’s Premier League games, contributing four goals and six assists.

At the moment, though, his focus is on trying to deliver England a World Cup title for the first time since 1966. Up next are the defending champions from France at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday. The winner of that game faces either Morocco or Portugal in the semifinals.

“It’s been two nations that have performed exceptionally well in their first four games,” Saka said of the meeting with France. “We’ve watched their games and stuff like that. We’ve followed them, and we’ve seen the quality that they have. And I’m sure they’ve done the same with us, so definitely it’s going to be an exciting game, and everyone’s looking forward to it.”

RELATED STORIES:
— ‘Strong believer’ Bukayo Saka leaning on his faith as Arsenal begin new season
— Brazil’s Bruno Guimaraes giving glory to God at his first World Cup
— Walker Zimmerman grateful to rep U.S. at World Cup as he leans on God’s love
— Goalie Keylor Navas focused on faith as he leads Costa Rica at World Cup
— U.S. star Christian Pulisic drawing strength from God as he makes WCup debut