Summer 2024

Bukayo Saka powering England to Euro 2024 semis: 'I have faith in God'

The England men’s national team did not make it easy on itself but found a way to reach the semifinals of a major tournament for the third time in four attempts dating back to the 2018 World Cup. Despite never leading in normal time during the Euro 2024 knockout stage, England got past Slovakia in extra time and beat Switzerland in a penalty shootout on Saturday.

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Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka was the hero against Switzerland, tying the game in the 80th minute and converting his penalty in the shootout. The goal made Saka the first male player in Arsenal’s storied history to score at both major tournaments — the Euros and the World Cup — for England.

The penalty also carried a special significance for the 22-year-old. He was one of three Black players who were racially abused after failing to convert in the Euro 2020 (played in 2021) final, which England lost to Italy on penalties. Saka’s Instagram post celebrating Saturday’s victory included the caption “Love always wins.”

 

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A post shared by Bukayo Saka (@bukayosaka87)

“You can fail once but you have a choice whether you put yourself in that position again or not, and I’m a guy that is going to put myself in that position,” Saka said after the game. “It’s something I embrace. I believed in myself and when I saw the ball hit the net, I was a very happy man.”

In a different postgame interview, Saka talked about the experience and emphasized the important role faith plays in his life, as he has done throughout his career.

“I have faith in God,” he said. “To come back from something like that was really difficult, but I used it to make me stronger. Today I took the chance, and I’m happy.”

At the club level, Saka has recorded 50 goal involvements over the past two Premier League seasons, helping lead his boyhood club Arsenal to consecutive second-place finishes. He has started all five games at the Euros while playing both as a winger and a defender.

His goal earned him player of the match honors Saturday, and he wrote “GOD’S CHILD” in his caption for an Instagram post of him holding the award.

 

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A post shared by Bukayo Saka (@bukayosaka87)

Saka often uses his platform as one of the biggest stars on one of the world’s best club teams and also on the English national team to publicly share about his faith in God. He references his faith on social media as well as in interviews. In 2022, he picked his Bible as one of the 10 things he can’t live without in an interview with GQ.

“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 during the 2022 World Cup. “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.”

England faces the Netherlands in the Euro 2024 semifinals at 3 p.m. ET Wednesday. The winner will meet either France or Spain in Sunday’s final. If England was to prevail, it would be the nation’s first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup.

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