Monday 23 July 2018

Harry Kane ready to believe alongside his band of brothers

England captain is preparing for the biggest game of his career.

Harry Kane is desperate to see off Sweden (Tim Goode/PA)
Harry Kane is desperate to see off Sweden (Tim Goode/PA)

By Simon Peach, Press Association Chief Football Writer, Samara

Harry Kane is ready to go into battle with his brothers and fire England to their first World Cup semi-final in 28 years.

Fellow surprise package Sweden stand between Gareth Southgate’s men and a place in the last four in Saturday’s hotly-anticipated quarter-final clash in Samara.

The country is dreaming of a third ever World Cup semi-final after England showed character and maturity that belied their inexperience to overcome Colombia on Tuesday evening.

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Harry Kane is preparing to face Sweden (Aaron Chown/PA)

The Three Lions ended their miserable penalty shoot-out record to progress to the quarter-finals, bringing this tight-knit squad even closer ahead of this huge occasion.

“We are just like family, really,” England captain Kane said. “We’ve spent a lot of time together. We all get on very well.

“I spoke before the tournament about the togetherness, the trust and that, but we always wanted to prove it on the pitch and show on the pitch that we can do that.

“We have done that so far and that’s just made us even stronger.

“After that game the other night, just the joy in everyone’s face… we’d worked so hard to come through that. It makes us even more proud of each other.

“I look at them like my brothers and I know they look at me the same. We’d do anything for each other. That’s what we’ve got to do for the rest of the tournament.

“When you go through a battle like that and when you come through it gives you so much energy, so much belief to go and do it again. The feeling after is amazing.

“We’re hungry for more. We want that feeling. If it goes to extra-time and penalties, then we’ll be ready for that.

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Kane has hailed the togetherness of his side (Adam Davy/PA)

“If we can win in 90 minutes then great, but we’re ready to do whatever it takes.”

Kane’s confidence and hunger should not be mistaken for brashness, though, with the striker echoing manager Southgate’s warnings about a team that have often been awkward opposition.

Yet while England are the highest-ranked side in their half of the draw – and it must be tempting to look ahead to the tantalising prospect of a semi-final against Russia or Croatia and beyond – the Golden Boot leader’s feet are firmly on the ground.

“Hopefully I carry on scoring and we go far,” Kane said.

  • 6 - Harry Kane
  • 4 - Romelu Lukaku
  • 4 - Cristiano Ronaldo

“We’re not really thinking about being world champions yet. We’ve still got a long way to go.

“If anything, this is the second half of the tournament now. This game tomorrow is going to be massive.

“We’ve done great up until now, but we look it’s another step we’ve got to overcome. Just looking forward to the challenge and getting out there.”

Kane will lead from the front against Sweden, fresh from becoming the first England player to score in six consecutive appearances since Tommy Lawton in 1939.

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Gary Lineker was England’s last Golden Boot winner (PA)

Already level with Gary Lineker’s Golden Boot-winning haul of six in 1986, the 24-year-old is focused on collective success rather than individual glory as he bids to make the nation proud.

“It’s massive,” he said of the scenes back home. “Obviously after the games we all see the videos going around social media and everything.

“I said after the Tunisia game, I was one of them fans not too long ago and getting drink thrown over me and jumping about, going wild.

“It’s what we want. We set out to make the country proud and we feel like we’ve done that so far.

“We want to keep seeing them videos and hopefully we can do the same tomorrow and we’ll see a few more. That’s what it’s about.

“It’s about bringing the whole country together and to see them enjoying it as they are is fantastic for us.”

Kane has established himself as the country’s golden boy during is time in Russia, while manager Southgate’s leadership has attracted plenty of admirers.

“He’s good – I want to play tomorrow, so…,” the striker said with a smile sat alongside the Three Lions boss at the Samara Arena.

“No, he’s been fantastic ever since he’s come in.

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Kane and Southgate have a strong bond (Aaron Chown/PA)

“Obviously I knew him well from the Under-21s and we’ve always had a good relationship and got on well. It’s been no different.

“The camp has been great. It has been easy-going but we’ve worked hard at the same time.

“Obviously he’s had experience in these tournaments, he knows what it’s like so that’s been massive as well.

“Just time around the hotel, time with the families and things like that has been really, really good.

“(I am) full of praise and hopefully we can have this relationship for a long time in the future and we can keep getting better and better.”

Press Association

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