Mesut Ozil has sent a message of support to Bukayo Saka after his penalty miss in England’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.
Gianluigi Donnarumma saved Saka’s decisive spot-kick in the shootout at Wembley to ensure Italy win the trophy for a second time in their history, while England’s 55-year wait for silverware continued.
In the hours that followed, Saka, Rashford and Jadon Sancho – who all failed to convert from 12 yards – were bombarded with several vile racist messages.
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The wider footballing community have also joined in throwing their support behind the players, who have all since addressed the abuse they faced in statements on their respective profiles.
Saka vowed to come back stronger as he spoke about his ordeal for the first time last week and the player’s former team-mate at Arsenal, Ozil, reached out with a heartfelt message on Wednesday.
Ozil missed a vital penalty of his own as Arsenal were eliminated out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich back in 2014 and empathised with the forward as his penalty was palmed away by Donnarumma.
‘I felt very much for Bukayo, I know from my own experience how it feels to miss a penalty,’ the German playmaker, now with Fenerbahce, told Sky Sports.
‘In a final, as the last one, to take on the responsibility of an entire nation as a young player – respect. Not many players would dare to do that.
‘There will always be people who racially abuse and scapegoat people of different backgrounds and skin colour when they lose.’
Ozil added: ‘Unfortunately, there will always be a small part of our community that racially insults and threatens players.
‘We should focus much more on the positive messages that keep players strong.’