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Bukayo Saka returns to Arsenal to be greeted with wall of supportive messages following racist abuse

Bukayo Saka was greeted by a wall of supportive messages from Arsenal fans after he returned to his club for the first time since receiving racist abuse in England's Euro 2020 campaign. 

The 19-year-old starred for the Three Lions this summer and played a key role in Gareth Southgate's side reaching the final, but the teenager missed the winning penalty against Italy in the final and was racially abused alongside other England stars.

Saka was handed an extended holiday by Arsenal due to his international exploits this summer, with the Gunners collecting messages from fans while he was away to show him on his return.

Supporters wrote letters to the winger which Arsenal put up on a wall in their training ground, while the Premier League club also donated flags and portraits in support of Saka, while one person gifted him a small bear wearing an England shirt, which the player claims he will be taking home.

England star Bukayo Saka was presented with a wall of messages from Arsenal fans after he was racially abused on England duty at Euro 2020

Saka, 19, starred for England this summer but missed the vital penalty in the final loss to Italy

When the 19-year-old first saw the large wall of messages, Saka told the club's official channel: 'Oh my God. It's getting bigger as I get closer.'

Saka took time to read some of the messages, including one from a child who wanted to buy the Arsenal and England star an ice cream using his pocket money.

After reading that letter, Saka said: 'He said we would play football in the park and he would let me in.'

When he finished reading the messages, Saka said: 'How do I even say thank you for all this? Can I just pick it all up and take it home? Can you help me though?'

Arsenal fans donated flags, portraits and wrote letters to their teenage attacking star

Arsenal published a statement immediately after Saka received the abuse on July 11, saying they were 'proud' of their player and told him to 'hold your head high'.

The statement read: 'Bukayo has been with us since he was seven and the whole club couldn’t have been prouder to see him represent England throughout the tournament. You could feel it right across the club.

'We witnessed the leadership and character we’ve always known and loved in Bukayo. However, this feeling of pride quickly turned to sorrow at the racist comments our young player was subjected to on his social media platforms after the final whistle.

'Once again, we are sad to have to say we condemn the racism towards a number of black players. This cannot continue and the social media platforms and authorities must act to ensure this disgusting abuse to which our players are subjected on a daily basis stops now.

One fan also gave Saka an England bear which the 19-year-old will take home with him

'We have processes in place internally at Arsenal to ensure our players are supported both emotionally and practically on this issue but sadly there is only so much we can do.

'Our message to Bukayo is: hold your head high, we are so very proud of you and we cannot wait to welcome you back home to Arsenal soon.'

'I knew instantly the type of hate that I was about to receive, that is a sad reality,' Saka wrote on Instagram.

Saka said he knew he was going to be racially abused as soon as he missed the penalty

Saka was consoled by Gareth Southgate and the player said he felt he let England down

'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.'

Saka's England team-mates Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho - who also missed from the spot in the defeat to Italy - were racially abused in a similar fashion and the Manchester Untied duo published their own statements condemning the racism.   

Sancho, 21, said: 'I'm not going to pretend that I didn't see the racial abuse that me and my brothers Marcus and Bukayo received after the game, but sadly it's nothing new. As a society we need to do better, and hold these people accountable.

'Hate will never win. To all the young people who have received similar abuse, hold your heads up high and keep chasing the dream. 

Saka's England team-mates Jadon Sancho (middle) and Marcus Rashford (right) were also racially abused after they missed penalties against Italy

Rashford saw his Greater Manchester mural defaced before fans covered the vandalism with positive messages

'I am proud of this England team and how we have united the whole nation in what has been a difficult 18 months for so many people. Much as we wanted to win the tournament, we will build and learn from this experience going forward.'

Rashford, who saw his mural in Greater Manchester vandalised after the final, added: 'I've grown into a sport where I expect to read things written about myself. Whether it be the colour of my skin, where I grew up or, most recently, how I decide to spend my time off the pitch.

'I can take critique of my performance all day long, my penalty was not good enough. But I will never apologise for who I am and where I came from. I've felt no prouder moment than wearing those three lions on my chest and seeing my family cheer me on in a crowd of 10s of thousands.

'I'm Marcus Rashford, 23-year-old black man from Withington and Wythenshawe, south Manchester. If I have nothing else I have that.' 

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