Owen: 'Absolute B******S' that Saka was 'too young' to take penalty

Michael Owen insists it is ‘absolute B******S’ that 19-year-old Bukayo Saka was ‘too young’ to take decisive penalty against Italy and even claims ‘it’s easier!’… before listing the ages of England players to miss in shootout defeats since Italia 90

  • Bukayo Saka missed the crucial penalty in England’s Euro 2020 final loss to Italy 
  • The 19-year-old’s shootout spot kick was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma 
  • Pundits such as Jose Mourinho and Roy Keane pointed at the teenager’s age
  • Michael Owen dismissed claims that Saka was too young as ‘absolute b******s’
  • Owen scored at the 1998 World Cup against Argentina at the age of just 18

Michael Owen claims any arguments that teenager Bukayo Saka was ‘too young’ to take the crucial fifth penalty in England’s Euro 2020 final against Italy are ‘absolute b******s’. 

The 19-year-old stepped up at Wembley needing to score to keep England alive in the final but saw his spot kick saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma to send the Italian fans in the London stadium into delirium. 

Many figures in football, such as Roy Keane and Jose Mourinho, pointed at Saka’s age as a reason why he missed his penalty, but Owen – who scored a penalty in the 1998 World Cup shootout against Argentina aged 18 – dismissed those claims.

Michael Owen has dismissed claims that Bukayo Saka (above) was too young to take a penalty 

The 19-year-old winger’s spotkick in the Euro 2020 final for England saw Italy clinch the title

He tweeted: ‘So much to debate following #EURO2020 but I simply can’t have this “too young at 19” theory to take a penalty. In fact, if my experiences are anything to go by it’s easier being young! Fearless, confident, no previous scars etc.’

Owen then posted a tweet listing all the players to have missed shootout penalties in a major tournament defeat since the 1990 World Cup in Italy. 

None of the players were under the age of 24, with Owen saying: ‘As I thought, the theory is absolute b******s.’


World Cup 1990 vs Germany (SF)

Stuart Pearce – 28

Chris Waddle – 29

Euro 96 vs Germany (SF)

Gareth Southgate – 25

World Cup 1998 vs Argentina (L16)

David Batty – 29

Paul Ince – 30

Euro 2004 vs Portugal (QF)

David Beckham – 29

Darius Vassell – 24

World Cup 2006 vs Portugal (QF)

Jamie Carragher – 28

Steven Gerrard – 26

Frank Lampard – 28

Euro 2012 vs Italy (QF) 

Ashley Young – 27

Ashley Cole – 32

Owen claims it is ‘easier’ for young players to take penalties as they are more ‘fearless’ 

The ex-England striker scored a penalty at 18 in the 1998 World Cup shootout with Argentina

After the match on Sunday, ITV pundit Roy Keane criticised Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish, who did not step up for the penalty shootout, for letting the teenage Saka take one over them. 

‘If you’re Grealish or Sterling, you can’t have a young kid step up in front of you,’ the former Republic of Ireland and Manchester United captain told ITV.

‘You can’t sit there and say “I see a 19-year-old kid walk in front of me, when I’ve played a lot more games, a lot more experience…” and Sterling, who has won trophies.

Roy Keane slammed Raheem Sterling (left) and Jack Grealish (right) for letting Saka take one

‘I’m not saying he wasn’t prepared, he might have been (penalty taker) six or seven, (but) you can’t sit there. It must be hard to take. You’ve got to get in front of this kid and say “listen, I’m gonna step up in front of you”.’

Southgate said after the game that the decision to put Saka as his fifth-choice penalty taker was his decision and his responsibility alone, though Jose Mourinho adopted a similar tone to Keane’s.

The Portuguese manager told talkSPORT: ‘In this situation, where was Raheem Sterling? Where was John Stones?  

‘Where was Luke Shaw? Why didn’t Jordan Henderson or Kyle Walker stay on the pitch?

Jose Mourinho claims John Stones (left) and Luke Shaw (right) should have stepped forward

‘I think it’s too much for a kid to have everything on his shoulders in this moment, but I don’t know, I have to ask that question to Gareth because many times what happens is that players who should be there are not there, players who should be there, they run away from the responsibility.’ 

Saka was subjected to intense racial abuse on Sunday night after his penalty miss along with Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho – who also missed their spot kicks in the Italy defeat. 

The FA, along with other key figures such as Gareth Southgate and Harry Kane, all condemned on Monday along with other voices within the football community, including Saka’s club Arsenal. 

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