Bukayo Saka needs no reminder of what happened at the last major tournament England played in but after his special performance in their first World Cup game, Declan Rice has hailed his teammate for his strength of character.

DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 21: Bukayo Saka of England celebrates with teammates after scoring their team's fourth goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between England and IR Iran at Khalifa International Stadium on November 21, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
DOHA, QATAR – NOVEMBER 21: Bukayo Saka of England celebrates with teammates after scoring their team’s fourth goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between England and IR Iran at Khalifa International Stadium on November 21, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Thanks to his brace, Bukayo Saka was named Man of the Match on his World Cup debut as England ran out 6-2 winners over Iran.

After the game, Saka said, “I can’t describe the feeling. It’s amazing.

“I am so happy and so proud. We got the win as well so it is a really special day. I feel in a good place.

“I feel the support and love from the fans, the coaching staff and my team-mates. That is all I need. I feel ready to give 100% and I will continue to do that every time I put the shirt on.

England's forward #17 Bukayo Saka celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between England and Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on November 21, 2022. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
England’s forward #17 Bukayo Saka celebrates scoring his team’s fourth goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between England and Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on November 21, 2022. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

“We needed that good start. We haven’t played the best coming into the tournament. There was a lot of talk and speculation about our form but we showed everyone how much quality we have and what we can do.

“What happened at the Euros will live with me forever, but I am so blessed to have coaching staff at England and Arsenal to put their arms around me and support me and help me get back into a good place and go again.

“I want to get back to a place where I can do my best and make the nation proud.”

Declan Rice was asked after the game about Saka’s performance, and the West Ham man, who is apparently up for sale this summer, did not hold back with his praise.

“It’s unbelievable what he’s done,” Rice said. “It says everything about his strength of character.

“You saw what happened last summer, everyone was with him then. He’s flourishing with Arsenal. He’s playing with a smile on his face.

“You see him around the training ground, he is the happiest person around the place.

“We’re all so happy for him.”

Yes we are, Declan. Yes, we are.

As the World Cup takes place in a country where being LGBTQ+ is illegal, please also remember that “Qatari authorities have failed to investigate the deaths of thousands of migrant workers over the past decade, despite evidence of links between premature deaths and unsafe working conditions," according to Amnesty International.

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