England’s Bukayo Saka says he won’t be broken by his penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final or the vile racist abuse he received in the aftermath, though he’s pleaded with social media sites to do more to prevent the spread of racist messages.
After lighting up this summer’s tournament with some brilliant performances, Saka added his name to the long list of England players to have missed a penalty in a shootout as Gianluigi Donnarumma’s save confirmed the Three Lions’ wait for major tournament success would go on.
After a brief period of reflection after the tournament, the 19-year-old has taken to his personal social media page to thank the fans who have sent him messages of support in the last few days – and despite being bitterly disappointed at the result, says he’s immensely proud of his teammates.
“I have stayed away from social media for a few days to spend time with my family and reflect on the last few weeks,” Saka wrote. “This message won’t do justice to how grateful I am for all the love that I have received, and I feel that I need to thank everyone who has supported me.
“It was an honour to be a part of an England squad that leads by example, they are brothers for life and I’m grateful for everything that I have learnt from every one of the players and staff who worked so hard.
“To help a team reach our first final in 55 years, seeing my family in the crowd, knowing what they’ve given up to help me get there, that meant everything to me.
“There are no words to tell you how disappointed I was with the result and my penalty. I really believed we would win this for you. I’m sorry we couldn’t bring it home for you this year, but I promise you that we will give everything we’ve got to make sure this generation knows how it feels to win.
“My reaction post match said it all, I was hurting so much and I felt like I’d let you all and my England family down, but I can promise you this… I will not let that moment or the negativity that I’ve received this week break me.
Having reflected on England’s campaign, Saka took the opportunity to address the social media platforms who have effectively facilitated the vile racist abuse received by himself, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho.
Saka believes more needs to be done to stop the spread of such hurtful messages, though again he thanked those who have supported him and stood up to the individuals sending the abuse.
“For those who have campaigned on my behalf and sent my heartfelt letters, wished me and my family well – I’m so thankful,” he added. “This is what football should be about. Passion, people of all races, genders, religions and backgrounds coming together with one shared joy of the rollercoaster of football.
“To the social media platforms Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I don’t want any child or adult to have to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that me, Marcus and Jadon have received this week.
“I knew instantly the kind of hate I was about to receive and that is a sad reality that your powerful platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages.
“There is no place for racism or hate of any kind in football or in any area of society and to the majority of people coming together to call out the people sending these messages, by taking action and reporting these comments to the police and by driving out the hate by being kind to one another, we will win.
“Love always wins.”