Player name: Bukayo Ayoyinka T. M. Saka
Height: 5 ft 10 in
Bukayo Saka is an English professional footballer who plays as a winger, left-back, or midfielder for Premier League club Arsenal and the England national team, although in most recent times prodominantly solely as a winger. Saka is known for his attacking incisiveness and creativity, and is often considered one of the best young football players in the world. Saka has spent his entire senior career with Arsenal, where he has won an FA Cup and an FA Community Shield, progressively becoming one of Arsenal's most prolific and influential players. Following the 2020−21 and 2021−22 seasons, he was named as Arsenal's player of the season. Saka has represented England at many youth levels, scoring six goals in 27 youth caps. He was first called up to the senior team on 1 October 2020 and made his debut in a friendly against Wales eight days later, starting the match which ended in a 3–0 victory.
Saka's boots are somewhat of an unknown entity in the match worn boot market, they've literally never been seen before... until now! We acquired the above pair of his New Balance Furon 6+, which he wore whilst playing for his club side Arsenal in some Premier League fixtures during the 2021-22 season, specifically during the months following the Christmas period. Saka had been wearing Adidas during the very early stage of his professional career, but in March 2021 he became the second high-profile player to sign with New Balance after Sadio Mane, which was promptly followed by fellow England teammate Raheem Sterling. This pair of his match worn boots we have here are extremely special and feature numerous differences over the mass produced publicly released Furon 6+ from NB...
Some of the differences on Saka's version of the Furon 6+ are somewhat subtle, but make the boots extremely unique. Looking at the internal size labels, we can see above that they're totally different to the retail version size labels which usually state the size in the four different region measurements (UK, EU, US, JP) and other information. NB provide their sponsored stars with bespoke custom made boots which are crafted to their exact measurements, we can see above that Saka is a US size 10.5 (which is a 9.5 in UK sizing) and the rest of the information on the label relates to the shape measurements, as well as also stating where they are made - Vietnam - which is incedentally where Puma also make their sponsored players boots! Above we can also see one subtle custom difference, where NB have added Bukayo's initals & squad number "BS7" to the patch at the top of the lacing system, on the knitted tongue one-piece design, in his custom font. Typically on the retail model this patch just featured the stripes going across horizontally.
Having previously played for youth teams of Watford, Saka joined Arsenal's Hale End academy at the age of seven. Once he turned 17 years old, Saka was given a professional contract by Arsenal and promoted to the under-23 side. On 29 November 2018, Saka made his senior competitive debut for Arsenal in their Europa League match against Vorskla Poltava, he came on as a 68th minute substitute for Aaron Ramsey. On 13 December 2018, Saka made his first full home debut for Arsenal in their Europa League match against Qarabağ. On 1 January 2019, Saka made his debut in the Premier League in a 4–1 win against Fulham after coming on for Alex Iwobi in the 83rd minute. He became the first player born in the 21st century to play in a Premier League match.
From the angles above, we can see that there are still some markings/remains of the hollowed turf from the Emirates Stadium from the last time in which Bukayo wore this pair. Furthermore, the toe boxes also show a differing shape to that of the retail equivilent, whereby they are wider but flatter/made of a lower profile in order to suit Saka's foot measurements. The standard retail Furon 6+ is by no means a bulky or poorly shaped football boot design, NB have just refined that fitment to suit Saka perfectly.
Saka scored his first goal of the 2021-22 campaign in a 6–0 EFL Cup second round win away to West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns in late August. He scored his first Premier League goal of the season in September against Tottenham Hotspur at the Emirates Stadium, whilst also providing an assist in a 3–1 win. On 30 October against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium, Saka made his 100th appearance for Arsenal, marking the occasion with an assist in a 2–0 win. On Boxing Day 2021, Saka scored his first senior brace as Arsenal beat Norwich City 5–0 at Carrow Road. In doing so, Saka became the second youngest player, after Nicolas Anelka, to score 10 Premier League goals for Arsenal. Arsenal finished 5th in the Premier League, falling short of Champions League qualification for the following season. After Arsenal's 2−0 away defeat to Newcastle United, which all but confirmed the club's Champions League absence, Saka criticised his own "poor performance", and expressed his disappointment over the game saying "we have had those opportunities to win and put ourselves in a great position, but we could not do that". After finishing the season as the club's top scorer, he was nominated for the Premier League Player of the Season, Premier League Young Player of the Season and PFA Young Player of the Year. Saka was named Arsenal's player of the season for a second consecutive season, becoming the first person to retain the award since Thierry Henry in 2004.
There are some further personalisation details in which NB have added to Saka's boots just for him, and these are prodominantly at the heel area of each boot. To the lateral side, again in the same custom font as the initals & squad number to the tongue area, his name "Bukayo Saka" along with a chilli emoji has been applied, with the chilli referring to his nickname "the little chilli" which former Arsenal teammate Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang gave him for his finishing in training sessions at the London Colney training ground. This nickname ended up sticking with Saka, and he is now known as this in the England national team camp!
"It started from Auba," Saka said in a press conference, per ESPN. "He said it in French. We're doing one finishing drill one time in training and he kept saying it, and I kept scoring, I was shooting with so much power and he was calling me little chilli in French [petit piment]. "I didn't know what it was. I asked him after and he told it means little chilli. From then on he kept calling me it and then it became a thing, and now it's a big thing, a lot of people call me it, and make it my nickname.” This chilli emoji can also be seen in Saka's Instagram bio.
To the rear of the heel area, again in his custom font, New Balance have added "God's Child est.2001". Saka has spoken up about his gratitude to God and the importance of his faith in a recent interview with GQ magazine. Bearing the moniker ‘God’s Child’ on his Instagram, Saka isn’t shy about his faith, and he said it’s because his Pentecostal Christian faith is “very important”
Saka represented England at under-16, under-17, under-18, under-19 and under-21 level. In May 2018, he was included in the England under-17 squad as they hosted the 2018 UEFA European Under-17 Championship. The hosts were eliminated by the Netherlands at the semi-final stage on a penalty shoot-out, although Saka scored his spot kick. In September 2018, Saka scored the winner for the England under-18 team in an away game against France. In November 2018, Saka received his first call-up to the England under-19 team. He scored on his debut at that age level in a qualifier against Moldova. On 4 September 2020, Saka made his debut for England U21s during a 6–0 victory away to Kosovo. On 1 October, Saka was called up to the England senior squad for the first time, and made his international debut as one of the starters in a 3–0 victory over Wales. Having played four times for England, Saka is now tied to England internationally and can no longer represent Nigeria.
On 1 June 2021, he was named in the 26-man squad for UEFA Euro 2020. On 2 June, in a friendly against Austria, Saka scored his first senior international goal, the only goal in a 1–0 win. He started in England's third Euro 2020 group stage match on 22 June against the Czech Republic, and was named the man of the match. On 11 July, in the tournament final against Italy, Saka was brought on as a substitute for Kieran Trippier. Following full time and extra time, Saka was chosen to take the team's fifth penalty during the subsequent shoot-out, his first penalty kick at senior level. Saka's effort was saved by goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and, as a result, Italy won the shoot-out and the tournament. Saka faced racist abuse online after missing the penalty. On 15 July, Saka said in an Instagram post that he "knew instantly the kind of hate" he was going to receive after his penalty was saved, adding: "... and that is a sad reality that your powerful platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages."When asked what he would be if not a footballer, Saka said he would be a basketball player or an actor. His favorite actor growing up was Will Smith and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is his favorite show. His favorite footballer of all-time is Thierry Henry and he cites Alexis Sanchez as an influence, saying he even tried to copy Sanchez's boots when he was an academy player. Among past teammates, Saka said David Luiz helped him the most in his career, saying "he went out of his way" to help a lot of Arsenal youngsters "on and off the pitch."
The above photo match of this pair is from the Premier League fixture, Arsenal vs Brentford, at the Emirates Stadium on February 19, 2022 in London, England. This match finished in a 2-1 home win for the Arsenal, with Saka scoring on the 79th minute of the match - in this pair! Above we can spot the custom personalisation elements, along with the distinctive crease to the top of the heel area. You may have noticed from this angle that the heels seem to be an unusually high cut, and that's right! They're around 30mm higher than the standard measurements on the heel cup of the retail version Furon 6+.