Bukayo Saka admits he has gone from star-struck teenager to expressive match-winner with England as he prepares for an “amazing” European Championship.
The 19-year-old hit the only goal of the game as the Three Lions began their tournament preparations with a 1-0 victory over Austria at the Riverside Stadium on Wednesday night.
It was Saka’s first international goal and comes on the back of a fine personal season at Arsenal, where he was often the shining light during a forgettable campaign for the Gunners.
He made the cut for Gareth Southgate’s 26-man squad for Euro 2020 and marked his fifth England cap with a goal, having made his senior debut in October.
Speaking after the victory, Saka revealed he was nervous when first making the step up but is now feeling at home among England’s elite.
“Yes, maybe I did when I first came in,” he replied when asked if he felt star-struck being involved with England.
“But now I’ve met the lads, I am more familiar with them. Things are much easier and I feel more at home when I come to camp.
“The feeling of being selected for the Euros is already just amazing and then now to get my first goal is even better.
“There’s just so many good things coming my way and I have to thank God for the blessings.”
Saka is one of two teenagers in Southgate’s squad and both he and 17-year-old Jude Bellingham caught the eye in the north east.
“That’s what we try to do with every opportunity we get to show the manager that we can play – I hope me and Jude did that,” Saka said as the pair aim to give Southgate a selection headache ahead of England’s tournament opener against Croatia.
“I feel like I can learn a bit from everyone. There are so many different quality players, especially in the attacking line.
“But even in the midfield and defence there’s so much experience I can take from everyone. I try to speak to everyone and get some advice from them.”