Bukayo Saka endured a harsh, yet potentially valuable, lesson in England’s Euro 2020 final defeat at the hands of Italy.
Despite having very little penalty experience, the Arsenal wonderkid stepped forward to take a decisive spot-kick after Jordan Pickford had kept the Three Lions in the game after saving from Jorginho.
It was a remarkably brave decision from both Saka and Gareth Southgate to place such responsibility on someone so young.
The pain on Saka’s face was for all to see and several of his England teammates – led by Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips – rushed to console him immediately.
In the aftermath of England’s penalty shootout defeat, there has been plenty of chatter about the order of the takers, with Man United legend Roy Keane questioning why a senior player didn’t step up ahead of Saka.
“If you’re Sterling or Grealish, you cannot sit there and have a young kid [Saka] go up for a penalty ahead of you, you can’t,” Keane told ITV. “You cannot let a shy 19-year-old go up in front of you.
“They have a lot more experience, Sterling has won trophies, they had to get in front of the young kid and stand up.”
Jack Grealish has since hit back at those comments by insisting that he was ready to be on the spot.
“I said I wanted to take one!!!!,” he replied on Twitter. “The gaffer has made so many right decisions through this tournament and he did tonight!
“But I won’t have people say I didn’t want to take a peno when I said I will…”
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And footage has since emerged that backs up Grealish’s claim.
As spotted on Arsenal Reddit, it appears that the decision for the fifth penalty taker came down to either Saka or the Aston Villa captain with Southgate opting for the former.
But with Grealish also lacking in penalty experience, there’s no guarantee that he would have fared better than the 19-year-old.