download All Football App

Ozil backs Saka to bounce back from his Euro 2020 heartache

  /  autty

Mesut Ozil has backed his former Arsenal team-mate Bukayo Saka to bounce back from his Euro 2020 heartbreak and told the forward to 'stay strong' after he was targeted with racist abuse.

Saka's miss from the spot saw Italy crowned European Champions with a 3-2 victory in the shoot-out at Wembley.

Ozil, who played alongside the youngster at the Emirates, sympathised with the forward and said he deserved respect for having the courage to step up for his country.

'I felt very much for Bukayo,' Ozil told Sky Sports. 'I know from my own experience how it feels to miss a penalty.

'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.'

Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford also missed their penalties and all three players were subjected to racist abuse on social media following the game.

Ozil, who played for Germany between 2009 and 2018, cited racism as the reasons for his retirement from international football.

The midfielder, who has Turkish parents, tweeted: 'I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose.'

The 32-year-old said racism will continue to be an issue but told Saka it was important to stay strong.

'There will always be people who racially abuse and scapegoat people of different backgrounds and skin colour when they lose,' he 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.'

Ozil also believes the 19-year-old has a bright future, adding: 'Bukayo is blessed with a talent that not many have. If he remains as humble and determined as he already is, I am a hundred per cent convinced that he has a great future ahead of him and can become a great player.'

The racist abuse of England's players was condemended by manager Gareth Southgate in the aftermath of the final.

He said: 'It's just not what we stand for. We have been a beacon of light in bringing people together in people being able to relate to the national team, and the national team stands for everybody and so that togetherness has to continue.

'We have shown the power our country has when it does come together and has that energy and positivity together.

'It's my decision who takes the penalties, it's not a case of players not volunteering or more experienced players backing out.'

Prince William branded the abuse as abhorrent while Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden called on social media companies to do more regarding online abuse.

The Duke of Cambridge tweeted: 'I am sickened by the racist abuse aimed at England players after last night's match.

'It is totally unacceptable that players have to endure this abhorrent behaviour.

'It must stop now and all those involved should be held accountable.'

Dowden added: 'I share the anger at appalling racist abuse of our heroic players.

'Social media companies need to up their game in addressing it and, if they fail to, our new Online Safety Bill will hold them to account with fines of up to 10 per cent of global revenue.'

Related: ArsenalOzilSaka