The Bukayo Saka interview: I admired Jack Wilshere but David Luiz has helped me the most at Arsenal (Video)
18-year old Nigerian-born wing-back Busayo Saka put pen to paper during the week and celebrated the milestone with a sumptuous goal against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.
In this interview with his club’s television channel, the youngster traces his early days at the club and his hopes of a brighter future with the Gunners….
Bukayo, you’ve got some exciting news to share with us so we’ll let you tell everyone what’s happened….
Well yeah, I’d just like to thank God for this very proud moment for me and my family. I’ve extended my contract here with Arsenal Football Club. I’ve been here since the age of eight and we’ve been working hard every single day but while we’ve been worming we’ve also been dreaming of moments like this. So it’s going to be very special for a long time for me and my family. We’re just over the moon.
As you say, there’s obviously been a lot of talk and a lot of questions, but how pleased are you now that that’s all behind you? You’ve signed this new contract and you can focus on what’s ahead…
Yea, well I love playing for Arsenal, you know. I love playing for the coach, the fans, my teammates and I really believe in the philosophy that the boss is bringing and what he’s building and I’m just really excited to see where he’s going to take us in the future.
As you say, you’ve been here since the age of eight so it’s a very long time here for you but what does Arsenal mean to you as a club? It’s obviously been a part of your life for so long…
When I was at Hale End, I just remember always seeing a picture of Jack Wilshere on the walls when I walked in every single day. I just used to tell myself that it’s possible to get into this first team, that there’s a pathway. Now that I’m in this position and that I’ve got to the level he got to when he was my age, I’m really proud of myself. I’m really happy and I just want to keep taking each day by day, staying humble and trying to get better each day.
So you’ve chosen to sign this new contract at Arsenal but what made you so sure that this was the best place and that this was the right decision for you?
It’s Arsenal, you know. Come on, it’s Arsenal. The stadium is great, the fans are great, the club is great. Everything about this club is great. I felt that it was right in my heart to extend my contract here and I feel like this is going to be best for my development.
Obviously this is the first season the fans have really seen you in the first team but your involvement has really been consistent since Mikel Arteta arrived as our head coach. What kind of influence has Mikel had for you and how has he helped your development?
For starters, I just want to say I have to mention Unai Emery because of the amount he believed in me and the opportunities he gave me, I’ll forever be grateful for them. And then of course Freddie Ljunberg who’s always gone out of his way to advise me and make sure I’m improving every day. These are the coaches I’ve played under before but Mikel is amazing you know. He manages to give so much detail while at the same time being so clear. It’s just amazing to have such a great coach. The future looks bright and that’s why I’m happy to be here.
You talk about the influence of Mikel there but obviously there’s been a lot of coaches in your youth development such as Freddie Ljunberg who have played an important role for you and have got you to where you are today. When you look back on your time from Hale End and coming to Colney, how do you feel about that experience and the way you have shaped to where you are now?
I’ll just say that everything happened so quickly, I came to Colney last year and Freddie was one of the coaches, out of many of the coaches at Arsenal who believed in me so much. I had Kwame before, Ken, Greg, Ryan Garry – all the coaches who are at Colney that were managing me. They all just believed in me and pushed me to the first team. I didn’t believe it would happen this quickly but I was always ready and prepared to take my opportunity. Luckily I did and I’m just happy to be in the position I’m today. When I look back I’m grateful to all the coaches, coaching staff and the people around the academy that really helped me and supported me in my journey.
Coaches are important, but so are teammates, something that we hear a lot from young players at Arsenal is how helpful the senior players are behind the scenes, just helping you to settle, adapt and give your best. Which players in the senior team have been really helpful to you?
I would say a lot of them have been really helpful. It would be unfair to really pick people out and stuff like that because since I’ve come here I’ve felt welcomed, I’ve felt loved. Now they feel like brothers to me and I can speak to them, I can say anything to them and they’ll always be there for me. One player in particular I have to say is David Luiz. He’s a man with a big heart and he just has so much experience in the game as well. He goes out of his way all the time to advise and help all the young players. I’m sure if you asked them as well they’d tell you how much he’s there to support us. He’s a very important member of our squad.
And the fans as well. They’ve been desperate for this moment, they’ve been desperate for this news to come. They’ve really taken you to their hearts si how much does it meean to you to get that recognition?
Yeah, I’m sorry it’s taken this long, you know because I’ve seen how much it means to the fans. Over this time I’ve seen how passionate they are, how loving they are and it just means everything to me that I can make them happy. I just hope I can continue to do that.
And do you have a message to the Arsenal fans who particularly been replying to all your tweets, all of your Instagram posts, asking you to sign da ting all the time?
I would say I want to thank them for their ongoing support. It means a lot to me. I hope this news makes them really happy that I’ve signed and extended my contract.