Arsenal and England star Bukayo Saka has revealed the origins of his ‘Little Chilli’ nickname, revealing it was given to him by Gunners captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Saka, 19, enjoyed a breakout season at Arsenal in 2020/21, winning player of the year honours and becoming one of Mikel Arteta’s most valuable players due to his consistency and sheer versatility, which allows him to play in a range of different positions.
The talented academy graduate’s strong form at club level was also recognised on the international scene, with a senior England debut in October followed by a further four caps and ultimately a place in Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2020 squad, which he retained after the initial 33-man expanded party was cut down to a final 26.
He also scored his first Three Lions goal in the 1-0 warm-up victory against Austria at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium.
Discussing his ‘Little Chilli’ nickname in the build-up to England’s Group D opener against Croatia at Wembley on Sunday, Saka said: “It started from Auba.
“He said it in French. We’re doing one finishing drill one time in training and he kept staying it, and I kept scoring, I was shooting with so much power and he was calling me little chilli in French.
“I didn’t know what it was. I asked him after and he told me 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.
“Of course, he got me the nice chain he promised he would get me if we won the FA Cup – it’s a show of how great a character he is and how important he is for me and I’d say for the team in terms of the happiness and the vibes in the dressing room.
“It’s really nice. He’d done a good job with that. I’m grateful. I love it. It’s unique.”