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Harry Kane: England's chosen one at FIFA World Cup 2018

Kane’s heroics in Russia is further proof England have finally found a talisman who can lead their campaign.

Published: 25th June 2018 08:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th June 2018 08:21 AM   |  A+A-

Harry Kane

England's Harry Kane celebrates after he scored his side's second goal during the group G match Panama | AP

Express News Service

NIZHNY NOVGOROD: Harry Kane had the ball within seconds of the referee pointing to the spot, settling all — if any — doubts as to who was going to take the penalty. There was really no challenge to the England captain, not even from Jesse Lingard, the man who won the penalty. The only man to walk up to Kane before the kick was Raheem Sterling and that was for an encouraging pat on the back. As the Tottenham striker stepped up, chants of ‘Oh Harry, Harry Kane’ started emerging from the crowd at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium.

Almost inevitably, the spot kick was smashed to top left corner before Panama’s keeper Jaime Penedo could even blink. Every time England go into a major tournament with a lot, if not all, of their hopes pinned on one player, the golden boy who they think could fire them to the title. In 1990, there was Paul Gascoigne, while Alan Shearer, David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard have all been there. In 2018, that mantle falls on the 24-year-old Kane.

And unlike a lot of his predecessors, he seems to have started with all guns firing. Shearer managed just the two in 1998 while Beckham netted just one each in the three World Cups he played. Rooney was perhaps the biggest disappointments of all the anointed talismans, just netting a solitary goal over three World Cups. Kane has outdone all of them with the exception of Gary Lineker in 1986, who topped the goalscoring charts with six goals. In just two games, he’s already England’s third highest goalscorer in World Cups — only Lineker and Geoff Hurst, who top-scored in 1966, are above him.

That Kane’s two matches were against Tunisia and Panama might have skewed things in his favour, but there is no denying that finally, after 32 years, an England striker has come to the party at a World Cup. On Sunday, Kane was substituted off in just the 63rd minute, presumably an effort to keep him fresh for England’s last group game against Belgium. But in that, he had already scored a hat-trick that catapulted him to the top of the goals scored table in Russia 2018. Of course, his three goals were two penalties and one that he seemed to know little about.

But England won’t care how they go in, as long as they go in. The man himself does not care — it may have been a rather fortuitous hattrick but he even came out after the game to take the match ball home. “The third one probably was one of the luckiest goals of my career,” he laughed. “But as I’ve said before, sometimes you go through spells where you score a lot and spells where you don’t.” “Obviously, it’s been going well so far and there’s a long way to go. But the most important thing is keep winning the games. But if my goals can help the team win, then that’s the perfect situation,” Kane said. The easy pickings though are over now.

Belgium are up next. After the win against Tunisia, Kane spoke of the importance of being up there with the best players in the world, the Cristiano Ronaldo’s and the Lionel Messi’s. His manager Gareth Southgate believes he is already up there with the best. “Clearly the stage to do that (prove yourself versus the best) is this one,” Southgate said. “You can dismiss penalties as being easy but the way he took them tells you a bit about the mental toughness of this guy. We won’t swap him for anyone else in the tournament. You know that if he gets opportunities, he will bury them.” If Kane continues burying them, England may well be celebrating at the Luzhniki Stadium, come July 15.

vishnu.prasad@newindianexpress.com



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