‘I just wanted to make him proud’ – England star Bukayo Saka on repaying Gareth Southgate’s faith and influence Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has had on him

    Bukayo Saka more than justified Gareth Southgate’s faith in him during England’s win over Iran, and Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta may have contributed to his heroics.

    The 21-year-old scored twice in the Three Lions’ World Cup opener as England cruised to a 6-2 win at the Khalifa International Stadium.

    England star Saka scored twice in the World Cup group stage clash against Iran

    Getty

    England star Saka scored twice in the World Cup group stage clash against Iran

    Arsenal winger Saka found the back of the net in either half of the 6-2 victory

    Getty

    Arsenal winger Saka found the back of the net in either half of the 6-2 victory

    Saka justified Southgate’s decision to include him in his line-up at the expense of both Phil Foden and Marcus Rashford.

    The Gunners academy graduate fired in two clinical strikes in either half with his dazzling display seeing him named as the man of the match.

    Since missing the deciding penalty in the Euro 2020 final shootout defeat to Italy, Saka has become a key player for both club and country.

    And the youngster has credited Arteta for helping him develop and become the footballer he is today.

    Speaking to talkSPORT’s England correspondent Faye Carruthers on how much he grown in the last 18 months, Saka said: “I’ve grown in many ways.

    “Of course I’ve got more big games under my belt, experience, more minutes.

    Saka has been in lightning form for his club this season with four goals and six assists in the Premier League this term

    Getty

    Saka has been in lightning form for his club this season with four goals and six assists in the Premier League this term

    “And with each game you always learn more and more and when I have a coach at Arsenal and a coach here that are so supportive, so much tactical detail to help me in training sessions and on the pitch, there’s no way I was never going to improve.”

    Saka also revealed he wanted to make Southgate proud against Iran after finding out he was to make his World Cup debut.

    Commenting on his reaction to finding out he was to start, Saka remarked: “I was very excited, it’s a massive opportunity for me to start a game at the World Cup.

    “It’s things of dreams, it’s not things that happen to every kid, so it was an amazing honour.

    Saka wanted to make Southgate proud and repay his faith in starting him

    Getty

    Saka wanted to make Southgate proud and repay his faith in starting him

    Saka has hailed Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta for his influence on his game

    Getty

    Saka has hailed Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta for his influence on his game

    “I just wanted to make him [Southgate] proud and justify his selection and repay the faith that he’s given me.”

    Saka also believes the emphatic victory has sent out a warning to England’s World Cup rivals.

    He added: “It shows what we can do when we play at our best, that we do have quality to go forward, to defend.

    “We’re a team that’s very good.”

    And as for his brilliant brace, Saka said: “What a feeling! I can’t really describe how I’m feeling.

    “One of the most special days of my life to have my family here.

    “To score two goals at the World Cup, I don’t really know what to say because I can’t describe it. I’m just so happy.”

    talkSPORT World Cup 2022 Coverage

    talkSPORT will be offering wall-to-wall coverage of the 2022 World Cup

    We’ll be broadcasting all 64 games in the tournament live, with over 600 hours of coverage across our network.

    You can tune in to talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 via our free online streaming service at talkSPORT.com.

    talkSPORT is widely available across the UK via DAB digital radio and on 1089 or 1053 AM.

    You can also download the talkSPORT app, or ask your smart speaker to play talkSPORT.

    Source

    Previous articleGareth Bale rescues draw for Wales in World Cup opener vs USA