Saka looks to embody ‘Little Chilli’ nickname by turning up the heat at Euros

It is a nickname that, unsurprisingly, does not roll off the tongue. Little Chilli.

It is hardly your average term of matey endearment, either, but Bukayo Saka is happy to go with it.

And that is probably because it was lethally hot finishing that prompted Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to coin Saka’s alias.

Saka explains: “We were doing a finishing drill in training and he kept saying it, and I kept scoring.

“I was shooting with so much power and he was calling me something in French. I didn’t know what it was. I asked him after and he told it means ‘little chilli’.

Bukayo Saka is looking to make his mark for England at the Euros

“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. Of course, he got me the nice chain he promised he would get me if we won the FA Cup.”

It was not just a chain. Aubameyang commissioned a jewel-encrusted, personalised chilli for his young team-mate … as you do.

“It’s a show of how great a character Auba is and how important he is for me and for the team in terms of the happiness and the vibes in the dressing room,” says Saka, who has become one of the leading personalities in the squad.

But in England’s Euro dressing-room, he is still very much the rookie.

“We have a lot of experienced players who have over 20 or 30 caps already so for me, it is about learning from them because I have not played a lot at this high level of international football.

“That is what I think it is about when I come here.

“In training, the attackers I’m playing with are the attackers I used to watch at home – Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane are the players I watched when I was in the England youth team.

“When we I was in the England youth team, we would come over and watch the first team training or watch them on YouTube.

Saka was gifted a personalised necklace by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Saka was gifted a personalised necklace by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

“Now, I’m learning different things from them, from their movement, from their passing.”

Not that 19-year-old Saka is just at the Euros for work experience.

“i don’t know what the starting team will be in the first, second and third games,” he says. “But all I know is that if I get my opportunity I’ll take it. I will give a positive performance.”

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