A fantastic footballer. A talented all-round sportsmen. Academically bright. And a very nice young man. Meet Saka our bright hope for Sunday as described by his PE teacher for five years.
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To me the revelation of the Euros has been Bukayo Saka. There’s something about his enthusiasm, something about his pure joy at playing football which marks him out.
I am grateful to Mark Harvey, who was his PE teacher from the age of 11 to 16, for filling in the details about this early life.
Apparently when only 11 his school team at Greenford High in Ealing, West London, were beaten 4-2. He came off the pitch in tears and said give up the game.
Thank God he didn’t. Mr Harvey, who has gone on to assistant head at the school, said; “Normally young boys are trying to show off and they don’t pass. He was the opposite.
“He was simple and effective and he had this intuitive understanding of the game, and of all sports.
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“I remember teaching him basketball, rugby, swimming. It was always the same thing. He was an incredible athlete, always in the top 5%. He still holds the school long jump record.”
“His fitness levels were ridiculous. Head and shoulders above everyone else.”
As well as sporting prowess Saka, 19, whose parents moved from Nigeria to England in the 1990s, was academically talented, achieving four A*s and three As in his GCSEs.
Harvey said of his behaviour; “He was squeaky clean. He was a role model student., no behaviour issues whatsoever.
“ His teachers all spoke extremely highly of him. He was a really diligent, hard-working student.”
He has a close knit group of friends, about five of them, and got them all tickets for the Germany game.
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Harvey sent him a message and the following day he returned saying he would come back to the school when his schedule allowed it.
“The school is in a frenzy. I can’t walk anywhere without someone saying his name” said Harvey. “They chant his name as they walk in and chant it again as they walk out.”
What a boy. So this is my forecast. He scores on Sunday. We win 1-0.
And if I’m wrong it will still be great to have watched Saka in the Euros. A star is born.
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