Biography

Bukayo Saka

English Footballer
Bukayo Saka
Bukayo Saka (Photo: Adidas)

Bukayo Saka is an English footballer who plays as a winger for Arsenal.

Bukayo Saka

• Date of birth: 5 September 2001
• Age: 20 years old
• Place of birth: Ealing, London, England
• Nationality: English
• Position: Winger
• Height: 178cm / 5ft 10ins
• Weight: 65kg / 143lbs
• Wages: £30,000 per week (Unconfirmed)

• Instagram: @bukayosaka87
• Twitter: @BukayoSaka87

Saka was born in London, England to Nigerian parents in September 2001 and joined Arsenal’s Hale End Academy when he was just seven years old.

The attacking midfielder was handed his first professional contract by Arsenal when he was 17 years old and he was promoted to the Gunners’ Under-23 team at the same time.

Saka made his senior competitive debut for Arsenal in a Europa League group-stage game against Ukrainian side Vorskla Poltava back in November 2018.

He scored his first senior goal for the Gunners in September 2019 and has been a regular fixture in the Arsenal side since enjoying a breakthrough campaign in 2019-20.

After representing England at U16, U17, U18, U19 and U21 level, Saka was called up to the senior Three Lions squad for the first time in October 2020.

So, what do we know about Saka’s early life and rise to prominence at both club and international level? This is his story.

Early Life, Parents And Upbringing

Bukayo Saka (full name: Bukayo Ayoyinka T. M. Saka) was born in Ealing, London on 5 September 2001 to Nigerian parents.

His parents, mother Adeniki and father Yomi, moved to London from Nigeria as economic migrants in the 1990s. Saka’s parents are devoted Christians.

Saka’s father has reportedly always been a huge football fan and previously supported Newcastle United because of his love for Alan Shearer.

Saka grew up with his family in Greenford, in the borough of Ealing, London, just five miles from Wembley. As a youngster and before joining Arsenal’s youth set-up, he played youth football for local club Greenford Celtic.

Saka started his academic life at Edward Betham of E Primary School in Greenford. He later attended Greenford High School, and continued to show sporting prowess during his education. He left Greenford High School in the summer of 2018, having secured four A*s and three As in his GCSEs.

Bukayo Saka

Bukayo Saka (Photo: Adidas)

Speaking in an interview with The Daily Mail in 2021, one of the Saka’s family’s former neighbours had nothing but good things to say about them. “They were a lovely, polite and very quiet family,” she said. “Bukayo was never without a ball and was always kicking one around outside.”

Saka has often spoken about how important a role his father Yomi played in helping to keep him grounded and inspire him during his formative years.

“He’s a massive inspiration for me,” Saka said of his father in an interview in September 2019. “From when I was young, he always kept me grounded, kept me humble.”

Arsenal

Saka joined Arsenal’s Hale End Academy when he was just seven years old. There, he would eventually link up with fellow Gunners youth product Emile Smith Rowe.

He signed his first professional contract with Arsenal on 14 September 2018, when he was 17 years old.

At the time, Arsenal Academy manager, Per Mertesacker said that the club were rewarding him after he “excelled” through the club’s youth system.

“Bukayo and [Arthur Okonkwo, who signed at the same time as Saka] are talented players, who have both excelled through our Hale End Academy,” said Mertesacker. “We are delighted that they have signed their first professional contracts with us and we look forward to supporting them further through their development.”

Saka made his competitive debut for Arsenal under Unai Emery in their Europa League group-stage game against Ukrainian side Vorskla Poltava on 29 November 2018. He came on as a second-half substitute for Aaron Ramsey.

Saka then continued to show some encouraging signs of progress and made his first full home debut for the Gunners in the Europa League clash against Qarabag in December 2018.

His first Premier League appearance came on 1 January 2019, when he came on as a substitute for Alex Iwobi in the 4-1 win over Fulham.

Saka was beginning to show his potential on a more regular basis for the Gunners, and he scored his first senior goal for the north London side on 19 September 2019, when he fired home a fine strike in a Europa League group-stage clash away to German side Eintracht Frankfurt.

Bukayo Saka

Bukayo Saka (Photo: Sky Sports)

Following Mikel Arteta’s appointment as Emery’s successor in December 2019, Saka continued to show lots of promise and enjoyed a more regular playing time under the Spaniard. He featured at left-back on a number of occasions following injuries to Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney.

Arsenal were understandably keen to reward Saka for his fine displays – and the north London club handed him a new and improved long-term contract in July 2020, believed to be worth around £30,000 per week, to keep him committed to the club until at least the summer of 2024.

At the time, Gunners boss Arteta was full of praise for Saka and the way he has harnessed his talent while coming through the north London club’s youth system.

“I think he represents every value that this football club stands for,” said Arteta after the confirmation of Saka’s new contract. “He has come through the academy, and earned his respect with hard work and accountability and you can see the progression that he is having as a player but as well as a person.

“He is a player that his team-mates really like, that I admire and he has a big hunger to become even better so I think it is the perfect thing to do right now.

“It is really important because one of the main foundations that we need at this club is people from the academy.”

Saka himself revealed that it was a straightforward decision to commit himself to the north London club.

“For me, it was just to think about what was best for my career and I felt what was best for my career was to continue playing with Arsenal,” Saka said in the summer of 2021.

Bukayo Saka

(Photo: Bukayo Saka / Instagram)

Saka has also spoken of how he feels grateful to Unai Emery for giving him his first chances in the Arsenal first team, even if the Spaniard’s reign at The Emirates came to a disappointing end.

“For me, Unai deserves a lot of credit for the belief and trust he put in a lot of us,” Saka explains. “He is a good guy and a good manager.”

Saka was an unused substitute as Arsenal beat Chelsea FC 2-1 to win the FA Cup at Wembley on 1 August 2020.

International Career

Thanks to his Nigerian parents, Saka had the chance to represent the African nation at international level, and before picking England, he took some time to think about which country he’d like to represent.

Speaking to BBC Sport in December 2019, Saka said:”I am always thinking about it but I haven’t made a decision yet. No-one has been in touch but when I make a decision you will find out.”

After some deliberation, Saka opted to represent England at international level. He was called up to the senior team for the first time in October 2020.

Saka made his senior England debut when he started the 3-0 victory over Wales on 8 October 2020 in an international friendly game. He was replaced by fellow Arsenal player Ainsley Maitland-Niles in the 76th minute.

He scored his first senior international goal when he netted the winner in a 1-0 victory over Austria on 2 June 2021 in a warm-up friendly game ahead of Euro 2020.

At Euro 2020, Saka made four appearances for Gareth Southgate’s England team and helped them to reach the final. In the final against Italy, Saka’s penalty was saved by goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma in the shootout after the 1-1 draw and extra-time. As a result, Italy won the tournament.

Life Away From The Pitch

Saka is a Christian and attended the Pentecostal Kingsborough Centre in Uxbridge with his family before they moved to be closer to Arsenal’s training facilities. His profile title on Instagram is: “God’s Child.”

Asked what he would be doing if he were not a footballer, Saka has said that he would be a basketball player or an actor.

Saka has an older brother named Yomi, who also grew up as an aspiring footballer and played as a defender.

Bukayo Saka

(Photo: Bukayo Saka / Instagram)

What Have Others Said?

Former Manchester United star Gary Neville, speaking after Saka’s penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final: “It is absolutely heartbreaking for the boy. Gone are the days whereby the penalty takers that miss get criticised and lambasted.

“Everybody has loved this boy for the last few weeks, they will love him in the next few weeks as well. He has been absolutely brilliant.

“That young man there, hold your head high because we are going to look after him now for the next few months.”

Former Arsenal and England midfielder Paul Merson, speaking in October 2020: “I like him, I really do like him. He’s a really good player. He gets his head up, takes people on, attacks with pace.

“He thoroughly deserves his place and the good thing about him as well, when it comes to tournament football, he can play in different positions which is priceless when you are picking a squad.”

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