In 2021, Buyako Saka has been named Europa League Player of the Year and Arsenal Player of the Season - but for many, his year will be remembered for different reasons.

It started off so well. Being one of the few positives in an otherwise dim campaign for the Gunners, Saka became an integral presence for Mikel Arteta on the left or right wing and, after being shortlisted for PFA Player of the Season- he forced his way into England’s squad for Euro 2021.

With the Three Lions playing most of their tournament in front of a home crowd in Wembley, the stage was set for the then 19-year-old to make his mark.

Ealing-born Saka had played in Wembley before, but having "gone past the stadium millions of times" while growing up, he told the press it was a "special experience" to play in front of friends and family in a full arena after the pandemic.

After missing the first two games, Saka started the key group match against Czech Republic and was voted man of the match.

Afterwards, he said: “I had faith in God, faith in myself and the backing of my manager. Everyone believes in me, when you have all of this it gives you confidence rather than nerves.”

Saka’s faith in God and himself has been a hallmark of his career so far. A straight-A student at school, he is part of a new breed of English players to show humility on and off the pitch - with Saka choosing to remain living with his family in their west London home.

For someone so young, the exposure brought by the Euros could have been enough for someone to stumble but Saka starred as England overcame Germany, Ukraine, and Denmark to reach the final.

Against Italy, Saka came on as a substitute and after the game finished 1-1 the youngster was handed the ominous task of taking the final spot kick. England were already losing the shootout and had Jorginho scored the previous penalty for Italy, Saka would never have stepped forward. Needing to score to give England any hope, his effort was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma - meaning the Three Lions’ 55 year wait for silverware continues.

A tearful Saka was filmed being consoled by England manager Gareth Southgate after the final whistle. But if having to come to terms with such a disappointment was not hard enough, the teenager would be the subject of racist abuse on social media after the game - with fellow Black wingers Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho also targeted after they also missed spot kicks.

Southgate, himself a scapegoat after a missed penalty in Euro 1996, was quick to deplore the abuse as "unforgivable", while the Met Police carried out an investigation, which led to a man being jailed.

After staying off social media for a period, Saka released a statement on Instagram to read: "This message won't do it justice how grateful I am for all the love that I have received, and I feel that I need to thank everyone that has supported me.

"There are no words to tell you how disappointed I was with the result and my penalty. I will not let that moment of negativity that I’ve received this week break me."

What happened next was an outpouring of support for Saka with murals painted in his honour while he achieved the unthinkable for an Arsenal player in a pre-season friendly, being applauded by Spurs fans.

Bukayo Saka’s summer brought out the best and worst sides of football supporters. But while the football industry and politicians wrestle with the problem of racism from the stands, Arsenal’s number 7 is getting on with what he does best.

Having played 13 times already this season, Saka is back to his best and showing that talent and hard work as well as maturity and humility can overcome even the harshest obstacle.

Bukayo is a Yoruba name from his ancestral Nigeria which means "adds to happiness". Football as a whole would agree he is living up to his name.