Michael Owen has rejected Roy Keane’s claim that Bukayo Saka is too young to have taken a penalty for England in the Euro 2020 final.
Saka, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford all missed as the Three Lions lost out to Italy on Sunday. However, the former’s miss has gained the most traction, given it was the final kick and the subsequent pressure on the 19-year-old’s shoulders. Keane led the inquest into the saved spot-kick, questioning why Jack Grealish did not step up.
The Aston Villa star responded, repeating Gareth Southgate in saying that the manager had already picked his takers.
Jose Mourinho also waded in, wondering where Luke Shaw was for the shootout.
Fellow pundit Owen, reflecting on the shootout, took time to research the former victims of England’s torrid record on penalties.
He wrote on Twitter: “So much to debate following EURO 2020 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.”
In a second tweet, the former England international said: “Just checked the ages of players who’ve missed at major tournaments since Italia 90.
“[Stuart] Pearce 28, [Chris] Waddle 29, Southgate 25, [David] Batty 29, [Paul] Ince 30, [David] Beckham 29, [Darius] Vassell 24, [Jamie] Carragher 28, [Steven] Gerrard 26, [Frank] Lampard 28, [Ashley] Young 27, [Ashley] Cole 32.
“As I thought, the theory is absolute b*******.”
Southgate, who missed the crucial penalty in the Euro 96 semi-final, took full responsibility for choosing his takers.
“We worked on it in training and that’s the order we came to. My call as coach,” he added.
England, who are likely to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, will look to go one better. Despite the heartbreak on penalties, they have progressed at both tournaments they have played under Southgate.
Euros final marred by racism
However, the pundit criticism aimed at England pales in comparison to the vile online abuse the trio who missed have received.
Saka, Sancho and Rashford have all received racial slurs, while a mural of the latter in Manchester was vandalised.
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has now spoken out in support of the striker.