Bukayo Saka sends message to ex-Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka after knocking him out of Euro 2024

Bukayo Saka played a crucial role in England’s quarter-final win (Picture: Getty)

Bukayo Saka has sent a classy message to ex-Arsenal teammate Granit Xhaka after knocking him and his Switzerland team out of Euro 2024.

Saka played a crucial role in England’s tense quarter-final victory, responding to Breel Embolo’s 75th-minute opener with a swift equaliser and then scoring in the penalty shootout.

Former Arsenal teammates Saka and Xhaka were seen embracing on the pitch after England went through to the semi-finals and Switzerland were sent home.

Asked how it felt to eliminate Xhaka – who won the Bundesliga title during his first season at Bayer Leverkusen after leaving Arsenal last summer, Saka said: ‘Granit has won enough trophies this season! 

‘I think he’s an amazing player, an amazing person – the humility he showed after the game to come and shake our hands says it all. 

‘I’m full of respect and admiration for him and Switzerland – they really gave us a game tonight.’ 

Saka stepped up in the penalty shootout despite missing from the spot in England’s heartbreaking Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.

Ex-Arsenal teammates Saka and Granit Xhaka embrace (Picture: Getty)

‘[The pressure of taking penalties] is something I embrace,’ he added. ‘You fail once but I’m the sort of guy who wants to put myself in the position again.

‘I know there’s a lot of nervous people watching, like my family, but I kept my cool and scored my penalty.’

England boss Gareth Southgate described Saka’s decision to take a penalty as ‘so brave’.

‘I thought the players were brilliant, it is the best we have played,’ Southgate said. ‘To come from behind and shown character and resilience we did… it isn’t just about playing well.

‘It was so brave from Bukayo, he is one of our best and we were never in question he would take one. But we all knew what he went through.

‘Huge performance, huge result and we are still in it. We had to be tactically spot on. We are in a third semi-final and it says a lot about the whole group. I thought we had good control.’

England captain Harry Kane, meanwhile, praised his teammates for getting the job down after he was subbed off before the shootout.

‘That’s tournament football for you,’ the struggling striker said. ‘You have to find a way.

Gareth Southgate’s side are one game away from the Euro 2024 final (Picture: Getty)

‘When you look at past champions in competitions, they have to go through penalty shootouts. It comes down to moments.

‘For Saka to step up and score that goal was special for him. I was weirdly calm during penalties. We have a lot more players that take them for their club. I know they are comfortable and know Pickford normally saves one.

‘I think penalty shootouts are the highest pressure you will feel as a professional footballer. But for him [Saka] to step up like he did after the tough time he had been through… I am really proud of him and proud of everyone.

‘There is one week left. We will see how far we can go.’

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