England wonderkid Bukayo Saka was destined for glory – as this fab photo of him as an 11-year-old ace reveals.
Our exclusive snap shows the future Arsenal player and his victorious primary school teammates in 2013.
On Tuesday Saka’s dazzling performance against the Czech Republic wowed fans and pundits alike.
And his incisive counterattack set up Jack Grealish to chip in a cross for Raheem Sterling’s winner.
The 19-year-old deserves a place in Tuesday’s team to play Germany in the Euro’s final 16.
Millions will cheer him on – none more so than Beverly Curzon, the coach who first saw his potential.
She said: “He’s not just an England player, he really is a lovely boy.”
Skillful Saka took Edward Betham Primary School, in Greenford, West London, to victory in the Ealing Peal Shield for two years on the trot.
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He was so impressive that the school retired the team’s No.10 shirt, which had also been worn by his brother Yomi and their cousins Folu and Tunde.
Teaching assistant Bev said: “When he came to the juniors we noticed his skill but he was too young to be in the football team.
“I sorted the football team out and I asked Yomi if he knew any players and he said, ‘My brother’.
“Yomi was very good in his own right, but we had a little look at Bukayo and he was very good.
“He was a cut above the rest. Bukayo was about seven and he was playing with 11 year olds. When he was playing in year seven or eight he was being scouted for Arsenal.”
Saka moved from Ealing, West London, after signing a contract with Arsenal but still lives with his parents in a six-bedroom mansion, which he bought in 2019 for £2.3million.
His Nigerian parents, Adenike and Yomi, came to the UK in the 90s to give their future children a better life.
Saka has presented his old school with an Arsenal shirt and it keeps a scrapbook about his matches.
Head-teacher Caroline Chamberlain, who was Saka’s class teacher in year two, said: “He was so lovely, very hardworking, always did his best. He was very responsible and showed a lot of care and consideration for others.
“The thing about Bukayo is that he deserves everything he got. Nothing was ever too much for him, he was never big-headed, he was very grounded.
“For me, that’s what makes it all the more brilliant. He came to visit the school in June 2019 and the children still talk about that visit. It had such an impact.
“He was still saying, ‘Hello miss’. Fame has not changed him. He’s still the wonderful, respectful young man he always was. He went round to every classroom – he was very inspirational.
“Every time he steps out on the pitch for England we’re all buzzing. We just want him to keep going.
“When the youngest cousin, Tunde, left the school Bev got ‘Saka’ printed on the No.10 shirt that they all wore and that has been retired from the school kit. We’re still using the kit that Bukayo wore when he was here. We’ll never tire of saying how proud we are of Bukayo.”
As pubs prepare for Tuesday’s match, industry bosses are expecting up to eight million pints will be sold on the day.
But they predict this will be 1.3 million fewer than if the game was being shown in boozers without Covid restrictions.
British Beer and Pub Association chief Emma McClarkin said: “Many pubs haven’t experienced the boost to their trade which they’d hoped for from the Euros. To secure our pubs for future tournaments and national occasions, there can be no further delays to lifting restrictions.
She said: “We’re counting down the days to freedom for pubs.”