Former Arsenal defender Lee Dixon was among the many witnesses who were blown away by Bukayo Saka’s performance in England’s 4-0 hammering of Andorra on Sunday.
The winger was celebrating his 20th birthday beneath the Wembley arch, which had been the scene of his lowest point in his career just two months before, but he bounced back with a strong performance and a hugely popular goal.
After Saka’s well-taken header, Dixon, who was on co-commentary duties for ITV’s broadcast of the World Cup qualifier, lavished praise on him.
“You forget how old you are” (Saka is playing like). Last season, he was probably one of two players that carried the Arsenal team,” the former Gunners right-back remarked.
“Everyone was looking at him to change a game, to win a game, for such a young youngster. “We saw he has a pass, he has a cross, he has the capacity to take men on and commit players when he came into the England team – particularly at the Euros – he was the one who received the ball. I have no doubt in my mind that he will be a huge success.”
Saka scored his second goal on the international stage in the 85th minute, heading home Jesse Lingard’s cross from a well-worked short corner.
After Saka’s deflected delivery helped him open the scoring in the first half, the Manchester United forward was repaying the favor.
Despite Arsenal’s terrible start to the Premier League season, Saka has emerged as a go-to man for the Gunners, becoming an unstoppable force under Mikel Arteta in his quest to lift his team to the top of the table.
In July, the Hale End graduate stepped up to take the game-winning spot in England’s penalty shootout loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final, only to be denied by Gianluigi Donnarumma. However, when he found the net at Wembley, he received a standing ovation.
Saka told ITV after the game, “[It was] the ultimate birthday present for me.”
“I’m overjoyed that we won and that I get to enjoy my birthday this way.” “I’m quite pleased with the welcome I received from everyone.” It truly shows how proud they are of me, and I think that meant a lot to me and motivated me to give it my all, and I’m glad we won.”