Arsenal teen star, Bukayo Saka, missed the game-winning penalty in England’s Euro 2020 final loss to Italy, and was subsequently abused on social media, but has since gotten backing from club great Henry.
Henry shared his own experiences, saying that he felt sad for those who had to bear the brunt of the abuse, even if it had happened before and he expects it to happen again.
“Whatever problem you have in society, at times you will see it also in the game,” the Frenchman told GQ.
“What did I feel? I knew it was going to happen because it was the trend. It is just something that now, oh, let’s do that.
“So when those guys miss the penalties, I was like, watch how they’re going to get abused. And they did get abused. I felt sorry for them… it could have been me.
“And it was me. And it has been me. And it has been others. And it has been in the past. And it’s still going on.”
Bukayo was a 19 year old when he was abused, whereas Sancho was 21 and Rashford was 23.
Henry has praised Saka and teammate Emile Smith Rowe for their achievements this season, and the Arsenal academy graduate has already spoken about Henry’s influence on his career.
The Higbury King’s recall of their talk after the Euros final highlights the closeness between the Premier League winner and the Nigerian descent.
“I know Bukayo, so I dropped him a line to tell him that actually for me, you going to present yourself to take that penalty, you are a hero,” the 44-year-old said.
“I didn’t [care] actually, him scoring or not scoring. Even the courage to go in there, to go and take the penalty at his age, for me he’s a hero”
Saka has returned to the kind of form that earned him a call-up to the summer team after his performance at the Euros.
In the Premier League, he has two goals and two assists for Arsenal, as well as scoring his first competitive goals for England in wins over Andorra and San Marino.
Thierry Henry has released his message of support for Bukayo Saka, who has been subjected to a barrage of vitriol following his missed penalty at Euro 2020, in which he referred to the young Arsenal player as a “hero.”
Saka, along with Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford, was one of three England players who missed the deciding shoot-out as Gareth Southgate’s side lost to Italy in the final, and all three were exposed to racist abuse following the game.
Manchester United and Arsenal have condemned the abuse, and several arrests have been made in connection with the remarks hurled towards the trio.
Henry, a former France international, has disclosed that he sent Saka a message at the time, and has expressed his thoughts about the vitriol heaped on all England players following the Wembley defeat.