Bukayo Saka finds redemption in penalty shootout at Euro 2024, following three years since experiencing racial abuse

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Saka reacts after scoring the goal

Bukayo Saka knelt near the middle of the field and looked up at the sky.

The rest of England’s players rushed towards the goal to celebrate with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Pickford, who were the heroes of the penalty shootout victory over Switzerland in the European Championship quarterfinals on Saturday.

Saka stayed back, content to enjoy a moment of redemption.

His penalty kick in the Euro final in 2021 was the one that decided the outcome, but it was saved, giving Italy the title at Wembley Stadium.

Afterward, Saka, along with Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, who also missed their penalties, faced appalling racial abuse on social media.

At that time, Saka was just 19 years old, the youngest player in a diverse England team that had captured the hearts of soccer fans across the country — at least until the loss to Italy.

England players celebrate after a goal

Now, three years later, Saka found himself in a familiar situation, walking alone from the center circle to take England’s third penalty in the shootout against Switzerland.

This time, he aimed for the bottom corner of the net and succeeded, celebrating by cupping his ears, as England eventually won 5-3 in the shootout after a 1-1 draw. Saka had scored the equalizer in the 80th minute.

“Personally, I embrace these situations,” Saka said about the pressure of taking a penalty again for England. “You can fail once but you can choose whether to put yourself in that position again or not.

“I’m the type of person who will put myself in that position. I believed in myself. And when I saw the ball hit the back of the net, I was very happy.”

Saka admitted it had been “really difficult” to recover from that tough night in July 2021 but said he used it to become stronger.

He added that he wasn’t thinking about his miss against Italy when he stepped up to take his penalty against Switzerland.


By James Brown

A passionate and driven individual currently pursuing a Bachelor of Technology (BTech) degree in Computer Science and Engineering (CSE). Born on 06 February, hails from Raipur, where their journey into the world of technology and creativity began.

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