Arsenal starlet Bukayo Saka has revealed that he was in such a state of shock about his first senior England call-up that Alexandre Lacazette had to hit him on the head to get him off the plane as Mikel Arteta’s squad made their way back from Liverpool.
Gareth Southgate rewarded Saka’s exceptional form at club level by naming Saka in his 30-man party for the Three Lions’ upcoming friendly against Wales and Nations League clashes with Belgium and Denmark.
It’s been a whirlwind 12 months for the versatile 19-year-old, who only cemented his place in Arsenal’s first-team last term after injuries to left-backs Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac.
Asked how he learned about his call-up, Saka told England’s official YouTube channel: ‘In the evening we had a game against Liverpool so I was on the plane,
‘My phone was airplane mode so I landed and turned my phone off airplane mode and I saw a text from a woman I didn’t know until now.
‘The first line was, “Congratulations Bukayo, you’ve been called up to the England senior team” and I didn’t even read the rest.
‘I was just sat there just frozen, staring at my phone for a good five minutes. And after, I don’t even know how long it was, Lacazette came and just hit me on my head and said: “Come on, we have to get off the plane!”
‘That’s how long I was there for just staring at my phone.
‘There’s a lot of good things that have happened to me in the last few weeks and months but this one was just something special, something different.’
Saka is joined in England’s squad by Ainsley Maitland-Niles and it’s clear his Arsenal team-mate has helped with the transition from club to international football.
‘He’s come from the academy just like me and he got his first call-up last time so when I got my call-up I asked him a lot of questions about how things run, how the lads are, how’s training and things like this,’ Saka added.
‘He did help me a lot and obviously when we got there he’s shown me round and introduced me to a few of the lads.
‘He’s been really good with me.’
Asked whether there was one piece of advice from Maitland-Niles that stood out, Saka replied: ‘He just said: “Be ready for training because the intensity is higher!”
‘That’s what he said to me and he wasn’t wrong.’
He will then hope to be in contention for their upcoming Nations League matches at home to Belgium and Denmark before returning to Arsenal.