Bukayo Saka credits Freddie Ljungberg for rise from Arsenal youth player to England’s Euros squad

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·2-min read
Bukayo Saka credits Freddie Ljungberg for rise from Arsenal youth player to England’s Euros squad
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 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Bukayo Saka has credited Freddie Ljungberg for helping him to rise from the Arsenal youth teams to the England squad for Euro 2020.

Saka, 19, scored his first senior England goal in the warm-up win over Austria last week, but it remains to be seen if he will be included in the starting line-up to face Croatia in England’s Euro 2020 opener at Wembley on Sunday.

Saka enjoyed a fine personal season in a disappointing campaign for the Gunners, leading to his nickname becoming common knowledge after Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang coined the name in French - le petit piment’... ‘the little chilli’.

Despite being handed his Arsenal debut by Unai Emery and flourishing under Mikel Arteta, Saka puts his development in north London down to Ljungberg.

The former Arsenal favourite worked with Saka during his progression through the ranks and during a short stint as interim boss in 2019, but is still offering advice today.

 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

“He has been really good with me,” Saka said of Ljungberg.

“From 14, when he took over my development, he challenged me in a way other coaches did not. He pushed me and saw my potential in a way other coaches did not.

“All the way to the under-23s he was still pushing me and even in the first team he was still helping me. Even till today. He has had a big influence on my career.

“He says different things. Because he was a winger himself he had a lot of experience himself and learning points to give me.

“He texted me the other day when I scored. He wrote, ‘congratulations, and make sure you pack a few things that you would do at home and that will keep yourself entertained’.

“Because we have a good team he said he thought we were going to go far and be here a long time. Because we would have a lot of free time he wanted to make sure I would keep happy.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

“It is not just the football side, he is a man who helps me with my personal life as well.

“He is such a top guy and I really appreciate that message from him.”

Additional reporting by PA.

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