Monday 16 September 2019

Kane sets sights on challenging Ronaldo and Messi

The England striker wants to be known as the best player in the world.

Harry Kane wants to be the best player in the world (Adam Davy/PA)
Harry Kane wants to be the best player in the world (Adam Davy/PA)

By Rory Dollard, Press Association Sport, Repino

Harry Kane is setting his sights on challenging Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for the title of best player on the planet.

Kane strengthened his status as England’s leading light with both goals in Monday’s World Cup opener against Tunisia but is hungry for even more.

Prior to the match he lightheartedly targeted a hat-trick to equal Ronaldo’s treble against Spain, but it is increasingly clear there is nothing frivolous about his desire to compete with two men who have dominated the sport for a decade.

Nobody else has won the prestigious Balon d’Or in the past 10 years but that is the level Kane is shooting for.

(PA Graphics)

“To be the best player in the world you have to aim high, you can’t aim low,” he said.

“I want to prove myself at a major tournament, I want to be up there with the best in the world and the only way to do that is to perform on the big stage and in the big moments.

“I had to prove people wrong throughout my career and I love proving to myself that I can do it. Ronaldo is the best in the world, up there with Messi, but the challenge is there to be with them.

“Put no limits on yourself, nobody should. I have been itching to get out there and showcase myself on the big stage.”

Nobody is more appreciative of Kane’s skills than manager Gareth Southgate, who awarded him the honour of captaining the side in Russia and set him up as a role model for all others to follow.

(PA Graphics)

Yet he shows the same ambitious streak as the Tottenham man, declining to unequivocally label him world class.

Invited to do so in the aftermath of his decisive turn in Volgograd, Southgate instead indicated his own desire to keep demanding more.

“I’m going to keep challenging him on that because I’m always a little uncertain as to what that title means and what you need to do to really gain it,” he said.

“But Harry’s a player we are privileged to have and I’m delighted to have him as my captain.”

Southgate sees Kane’s self belief as a critical part of his make-up and feels he shows the same kind of authority as some of the country’s most accomplished recent internationals.

“I think you see that in the top, top players and I think he’s shown that over a period of time in the league,” he said.

“The best do it, the Gerrards and the Shearers and the Lampards. It’s the psychological strength that separates the really top people from the ones that are the next level down.”

Kane’s relationship with Southgate may be going from strength to strength but the 24-year-old revealed his bond with Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino is hitting new colourful new heights too.

“Poch texted me (before the game) and after as well – he sent a lot of love hearts and said ‘Come on England’,” said Kane.

“He is rooting for me. He is not just my boss, he’s my mate… he’s the manager, but he’s a friend as well.”

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