Thursday 13 December 2018

Harry Kane hits out at fans' attitude towards England players following online abuse

Tottenham Hotspur's English striker Harry Kane
Tottenham Hotspur's English striker Harry Kane

Matt Law

Harry Kane has broken his silence over becoming the butt of jokes in recent weeks and claimed that his critics are just waiting for him and his England team-mates to fail at the World Cup this summer.

Tottenham Hotspur striker Kane was targeted on social media by Liverpool players, England team-mate Jamie Vardy, a number of ex-professionals and fans after claiming his side’s second goal against Stoke City off team-mate Christian Eriksen.

He was then poked fun at by the official FA Cup Twitter account for his performance against Manchester United in the semi-final and found himself targeted by Professional Footballers’ Association chairman Ben Purkiss.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has defended Kane, describing the Football Association tweet as “embarrassing”, but the player himself had remained silent until now.

Kane made up for a sluggish performance against Watford by scoring Tottenham’s vital second goal and afterwards addressed the jokes that have been made at his expense.

“The FA tweet was a silly tweet, we all know that,” said Kane. “I talked to the gaffer about it and all we said was ‘Would other countries do that to their players?’ Probably not.

“It is something that has gone. Two weeks ago now or whatever - I am over it. The gaffer may have said that I am sad, but I am focused. I am a guy that gets over things. If it happened, it happened. I move on and look forward to the next game and that is all I worry about – getting out on the pitch and trying to do my job.”

Asked whether the way in which people have jumped on the opportunity to make fun of him points to a wider problem regarding England players ahead of the World Cup, Kane replied: “It’s strange. Maybe it’s a mentality thing.

“It is easier nowadays maybe to ‘banter’ England players or take the mickey out of the England players. So if we don’t do well in the World Cup, then people can say ‘We told you so.’ But that is maybe a weaker mentality.

“But as a team it is what it is. We are focusing on what we have got to do. We have got to go with the mindset and belief that we can do it. We try to win everything we go into – the World Cup is no different.

“People are going to have their opinions. When you are not doing well or the team are not doing well, people are going to look for certain individuals to dig out. It is what it is. It is part of the game.

“I have always said I try not to get too high or get too low because you never know what is around the corner. I am trying to stay focused on what I need to do and that is to perform on the pitch.”

Raheem Sterling struggled to cope with online abuse during England’s dismal Euro 2016 campaign, but Kane insists the last few weeks will not stop him engaging with the public.

“On social media, you get a few people who don’t see eye-to-eye and it is being a fan and having an opinion,” said Kane. “Everybody is very passionate about their club and rightly so, but as a nation, when it comes to the World Cup, that is the most important thing and that is what comes first.

“For me personally, I will always engage with my fans. It is just a small number of fans who maybe go over the mark, but that is just life. You cannot get too down about that. I love my fans all around the world and, hopefully, that can give me their respect.”

Kane is still waiting to hit top form since rushing back from his ankle injury, but the 24-year-old insists he is in good physical shape and still believes he can beat Mohamed Salah to the golden boot.

Salah is four goals ahead with 31 and Kane said: “The ankle is fine. The ankle is good. It was good to score against Watford and I had a couple of chances. I feel fine. I feel good. I am looking forward to the last three weeks.

“Every striker in every country wants to win the golden boot. I want to win at everything, whether it’s the golden boot or every game. Even if it is just playing a game with my mates – I want to win that. I am not afraid to say so.”

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