EPL

Saka can thrive at World Cup after overcoming Euro 2020 heartache, says Ramsdale

By Sports Desk November 18, 2022

Bukayo Saka can thrive during England's World Cup campaign after handling the fallout from his penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final "impeccably", according to Aaron Ramsdale.

Saka's spot-kick was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma after England's tense draw with Italy last July, ensuring the Three Lions lost on their first major final appearance since the 1966 World Cup.

The winger then endured further disappointment on the domestic stage as Arsenal failed to secure a top-four finish last term, but he has bounced back in fine fashion this season.

With Arsenal flying high at the top of the Premier League table, only five players have bettered Saka's tally of 10 goal contributions in the competition this campaign (four goals, six assists), and his Gunners team-mate Ramsdale expects him to impress in Qatar.

Asked by ESPN how Saka handled last year's disappointment, Ramsdale said: "[I'm] trying to find the right words, impeccably, probably.

"The kid's a lovely boy, he has time for everyone, he works super hard throughout every week. 

"He very, very rarely misses a training session and he used all that motivation of criticism, but also the love that everyone gave him, [it] gave him an extra boost.

"Don't forget he had the pressure of the whole football club on him last year – him and Emile Smith Rowe were our main guys – and he has dealt with that, he's dealt with everything else. 

"He is thriving and I can't wait to see him thrive over here."

Recalling Arsenal's failure to qualify for the Champions League last season, Ramsdale said Saka blamed himself for the Gunners' inability to get over the line.

"When we missed out on the top four, he felt like it was all his fault because he couldn't provide for us," Ramsdale added.

"I was just able to reflect that the season before they finished eighth, [last] season we finished fifth, and if we go another step again, we will be in the top four. It's a game of football and there's a lot more to it."

Asked whether Saka had become a stronger character in the last year, he added: "Absolutely. There is no doubt about that, off the pitch and on it. He's a more complete person."

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