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Bukayo Saka Earns First England Call-Up

The Little Chili just got his first England call-up!

Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka joins Ainsley Maitland-Niles for this latest round of international duty, and at only 19 gets his first chance in the spotlight for the Three Lions. It’s about time.

Saka, in my humble and completely unbiased opinion, has been pretty slighted this season. He wasn’t nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year – the cap for which is 25, which I think is ludicrous – and has been regularly overlooked in favor of players like Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden.

Now that those two hooligans are out of the squad, there’s room for Saka to shine. While he’s listed as a defender, Gareth Southgate’s wing-heavy tactics will create gilt-edged opportunities for him to retain his place. He’s also grown up playing with a lot of the young footballers in the squad, which is a massive boost to his comfort level within the team.

And now that’s he’s a senior player for club and country, let’s take a look at his journey, and how he got where he is today.

A young kid from Ealing, he joined the Arsenal academy at age seven, ten years before he signed his professional contract with Arsenal. In his own words, football was all he thought about. He would go out into the back garden with his dad and older brother, and make them play until he won. He was unrelenting.

That hard work payed off. He earned himself a senior call-up, and made his debut against Vorskla Poltava, as a 68th minute substitute for Aaron Ramsey. He had turned 17 two months previously. His first full appearance was two weeks later, against FK Qarabag, and on New Years Day, 2019, he made his Premier League debut, in a 4-1 win over Fulham.

And since then, Saka hasn’t looked back. He scored his first senior goal against Eintracht Frankfurt, tallying two assists in the 3-0 win. Since then, he’s scored worldies, assisted loads, and cemented himself as a potential first-team regular. And he turned 19 less than a month ago.

Here’s what Mikel Arteta had to say about Saka, when he signed his recent long-term deal.

“I think he represents every value that this football club stands for. 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’s redefined the utility player narrative at Arsenal, playing a whopping six positions, across the midfield, attack, and defense. There’s honestly nothing he can’t do. The sky’s the limit for Bukayo Saka.

He’s also impressed internationally. A regular for England’s U-16, U-17, U-18, U-19, and U-21 teams throughout his youth, a senior call-up was waiting. And now that he’s got it, he won’t be giving it up too easily.

Next: Marcelo Flores: Things to Know About the Arsenal Youngster

It’s extraordinary to recognize that England fans worldwide have been baying for Saka’s inclusion in the national team, despite his youth and relative inexperience. Frankly, it’s a statement of how exceptional our Little Chili has been. The future is bright.

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