Aaron Ramsdale explains how Euro 2020 penalty miss made Bukayo Saka a better player

2 months ago

Arsenal and England goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale has backed teammate Bukayo Saka to recover from his penalty miss in the final of Euro 2020 to take another spot-kick at this World Cup.

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Saka missed the decisive penalty in the final against Italy in 2021, the heartbreak of which was made worse by the torrent of racist abuse directed his way on social media, and he consequently endured a slow start to the 2021/22 Premier League season.

Now back on his feet and flying for his club, Saka has been backed to put the pressure on himself once again with a penalty in Qatar.

"Absolutely," Ramsdale said when asked if Saka would take another penalty this winter. "I think he has realised it was just something that happened to him and he would not shy away - he is that type of person.

"He knows the feeling now and, hopefully, next time he steps up he’ll put the ball in the back of the net."

Reflecting on that penalty miss, Ramsdale insisted Saka has grown tremendously as a result of it.

Asked how Saka responded, the goalkeeper said: "Impeccably. The kid’s a lovely boy. He has time for everyone, works super hard throughout every week. He very, very rarely misses a training session. He used all that motivation of criticism. But, also, the love everyone gave him, that 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. There is no doubt that he is a stronger character now, off the pitch and on it. He’s a more complete person."

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