“Most Important Player”: Rio Ferdinand Praises Bukayo Saka’s Heroics in England’s Euro 2024 Quarter-Final Win

"Most Important Player": Rio Ferdinand Praises Bukayo Saka's Heroics in England's Euro 2024 Quarter-Final Win

Rio Ferdinand described Bukayo Saka as England’s most important player after the Arsenal star rescued Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2024 campaign with a stunning performance. The 22-year-old scored a crucial 80th-minute equalizer against Switzerland and calmly converted his penalty in the ensuing shoot-out, helping England advance to the semi-finals.

Ferdinand joined the chorus of praise for Saka, highlighting his Player of the Match performance in the 1-1 draw. “He’s arguably the most important England player because he’s so different to anyone else,” Ferdinand said during the BBC’s post-match analysis. “He’s the one who will run at people, beat you one vs one, and go behind; even today he played at wing-back and he’s a winger.”

Saka, who had suffered racist abuse following his penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final, showed remarkable resilience and character. “Everything about him just comes off as being so positive and you can’t help but love him. Not just for his football but his personality and his character to come back,” Ferdinand added.

Comparing Saka to Dutch legend Arjen Robben, Ferdinand noted, “A bit like Robben, isn’t it? You know he’s going to come inside, but you can’t stop him because he’s so sharp and he is so decisive in that moment.”

Saka himself acknowledged the significance of stepping up in the shoot-out, with Jordan Pickford saving Manuel Akanji’s penalty and Trent Alexander-Arnold scoring the winner. “Last time we took a penalty shoot-out at the Euros we know what happened. I believed. I felt like we dominated the whole game and the chance would come and I took it—I am proud of myself for that,” Saka told the BBC. “I have faith in God. To come back from something like that is really difficult. Today I took the chance.”

England will face the Netherlands, who came from behind to defeat Turkey, in the semi-finals on Wednesday.

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