FIFA World Cup 2022: Micah Richards commends ‘wonderful’ Bukayo Saka after scoring twice in England vs Iran match

Micah Richards has heaped praise on England’s Bukayo Saka following his performance in their first World Cup match

Micah Richards has been leading the praise for Arsenal forward Bukayo Saka, following his performance during England’s first World Cup match.

The Men’s 2022 FIFA World Cup tournament began on Sunday with host Qatar losing 0 - 2, to South American team Ecuador. England kicked-off their World Cup campaign on Moday afternoon by impressively thrashing their opponents, Iran 6-2.

Bukayo Saka, 21, from London, was named ‘Man of the Match’ for his outstanding performance after scoring England’s second and fourth goals of the game.

Micah Richards has praised Bukayo Saka for his performance during England’s first World Cup match of the tournament against Iran. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

The footballer was previously subject to a tirade of racial abuse following the Euro 2020 final, along with Marcus Rashford, 25, and Jadon Sancho, 22, as they all missed their penalties in the shootout defeat to Italy.

The shocking online abuse, prompted widespread support from fans and the football community.

Now, 18 months on, Saka hasn’t let the past hold him back and has a reason to celebrate, having scored twice in his first major football tournament.

Former footballer Micah Richards, 34, who lives in Leeds, is working with the likes of Alan Shearer, Rio Ferdinand, and Gary Linekar to cover the BBC correspondence of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

After the England vs. Iran match, Richards highlighted Saka’s standout performance and praised his strength of character to have the ability to bounce back from what he experienced during the Euros.

The former England and Manchester City defender told the BBC: “He’s started the season brilliantly for Arsenal and he’s brought that to the England squad – wonderful.”

“Having gone through that little bit of adversity and then having the character to bring it round and then perform like this, just shows you what sort of player and character he really is,” he added.

Richards went on to commend England’s brilliant start to the tournament, while admitting that he is “absolutely buzzing” for the team.

After the match, Saka seemed overjoyed, saying: “I can’t describe the feeling, it is amazing. I am so happy and so proud. We got the win as well so it is a really special day.

“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.”

He continued: “It is amazing to get the win under so much pressure. But we have to be consistent because we have the next game [against the USA] coming up in a few days and we have to win again.”

The Arsenal forward went on to explain that he now “feels in a good place” and feels the love and support of fans, coaches and his fellow teammates.

“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,” he added.

Joining Saka as goal scorers for England’s first World Cup 2022 win were, Jude Bellingham, 19, Raheem Sterling, 27, Marcus Rashford, 25, and Jack Grealish, 27.

BBC co-presenter, Alan Shearer also piled on the praise after England’s brilliant first-display in their 6-2 Group B victory.

He said: “Magnificent from start to finish. Everything about their performance has been special.”