After missing a late penalty in the quarter-final defeat to France in 2022 World Cup in Qatar, England striker Harry Kane had said that he will be haunted by it forever. But given his excellent form for the Spurs, England boss Gareth Southgate doesn’t look worried at all.
Since Kane has been on club business, Southgate says he has not felt the need to “interfere” with his proceedings and that he sees a player as hungry as ever to score goals.
Kane has scored nine times in 17 games and recently overtook Jimmy Greaves’ record to become the club’s all-time leading scorer earlier this season and Southgate reckons he can replicate the same for his country.
Kane could break the England record when their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign gets underway against Italy in Naples on Thursday night, followed by a match against Ukraine at Wembley on Sunday.
“I don’t think it’s a big hurdle really. I had a good chat with him while we were away. I sent him a message before he went back to his club and then I took a step back and had a look at how it was. And I haven’t really felt the need to pick the phone up. It (his recovery) is there in his performances for Spurs. Sometimes you can busy yourself and look for a pat on the back by getting in touch with a player but I can’t take any credit for what he’s done,” said Southgate.
“What I’ve observed is a player still super-confident, still ready to perform, still hungry to score goals. He’s obviously gone through the personal landmark with Spurs and then there’s this one that he’s going to nail with us at some point. So, I actually spoke to him earlier this week, but I’ve been able to take a step back and let him get on with it. Sometimes there’s no need to interfere,” he added.
With Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford also coming out from dark phases, Kane’s comeback will see a possible front three. Rashford and Saka missed penalties in the heartbreaking shootout loss to Italy in the 2021 European Championship final, and were made to endure awful personal attacks on social media. Southgate, however, thinks that what really helped them get over the trauma was the outpouring of sympathy from the fans.
Saka is especially loved within the England camp and Southgate has described him as a “fabulous human”, saying thinking about him “makes me smile … because that’s what he brings to you. You feel a warmth. You feel a fabulous human being who has broken his way into the team at Arsenal at a time they weren’t playing so well – and excelled. And now here they are pushing for the title – and he’s excelling again.”
“And he’s recovered from the obvious setback with us. He has the warmth of the fans with him who can see what he’s about, can see the genuine nature of his personality. He’s a top player. He’s more and more of a goal threat, he’s creating chances, he is totally reliable without the ball. He’s a proper team player. I can’t speak highly enough of him.”
On Rashford, Southgate added: “This season he has been exceptional. You can see the happiness, it’s obvious to everybody watching. His finishing … you’re seeing him moving on to chances now and you are expecting him to score. For a period, that wasn’t the case.”
“You can see the confidence. He is benefiting from the environment at the club. He’s in that flow that every player and athlete wants to be in. You can’t remain in it forever and you have to try to get back into it when you are out of it. But he is definitely in that moment and he must feel super-confident.”