<p>Bukayo Saka of England battles for possession with Manuel Locatelli of Italy during the Euro 2020 final</p>

Bukayo Saka of England battles for possession with Manuel Locatelli of Italy during the Euro 2020 final

The FA via Getty Images

Bukayo Saka said he “knew instantly” that he would be bombarded with hateful messages after the Euro 2020 final, but added that “love always wins” as he thanked fans for their support.

The 19-year-old posted on Twitter on Thursday for the first time since England’s defeat to Italy and responded to the horrific racist abuse that he, alongside Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, had received.

It was the Arsenal midfielder’s penalty miss which sealed a 3-2 shoot-out defeat by Italy at Wembley, after the sides had found themselves locked together at 1-1 following extra time.

At the beginning of the message, Saka said that he stayed “away from social media” after the game to spend some time with his family and reflect.

But he added that he is grateful “for all the love” and support. “It was an honour to be part of an England squad that leads by example, they are brothers for life, and I’m grateful for everything that I have learnt from every one of the players and staff who worked so hard,” he wrote.

He continued to say that “no words” could encapsulate how disappointed he felt about the loss and his own penalty.

Saka, one of the emerging stars of Gareth Southgate’s side, started three of England’s games including the 2-0 last-16 win over Germany and the semi-final victory against Denmark, and came on as a second-half substitute in the final.

It fell to him to take the fifth spot-kick after Rashford had hit the post with his attempt and Sancho had seen his saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma, but he too was denied by the Italy goalkeeper.

“I really believed we would win this for you. I’m sorry that we couldn’t bring it home for you this year, but I promise you that we will give everything we’ve got to make sure this generation knows how it feels to win,” he said.

But with the negativity that he received, Saka vowed that he wouldn’t let it “break” him.

“This is what football should be about. Passion, people of all races, genders, religions, and backgrounds coming together with one shared joy of the rollercoaster of football,” he said.

He then urged major social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook not to allow any “child or adult” to receive the degree of hate that he and his teammates have received post-loss.

“I knew instantly the kind of hate that I was about to receive, and that is a sad reality that your powerful platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages.”

He continued: “There is no place for racism or hate of any kind in football or in any area of society and to the majority of people coming together to call out the people sending these messages, by taking action and reporting these comments to the police and by driving out the hate by being kind to one another, we will win.”

“Love always wins,” Saka concluded the message.

People in the comments were absolutely moved by his words, continuously showing their support for him alongside Rashford and Sancho.

Saka’s post received a swift response from England’s official Twitter feed.

It read: “You should be incredibly proud of the role you played in our incredible journey this summer, Bukayo. Sunday will not define you, there’s so much more to come. Keep your head held high.”

“You stepped up to take that penalty with the weight of the world on your shoulders. We’re all so proud of you, Bukayo,” someone else wrote.

A third commenter noted that Saka is a great person all around, saying, “You’re a great footballer and an even better human being, pal.”

Check out some other responses below.

Hear, hear.

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