England captain Harry Kane under ‘immense pressure’ at Euros but Gareth Southgate backs more goals to come

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·4-min read
England captain Harry Kane under ‘immense pressure’ at Euros but Gareth Southgate backs more goals to come
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 (Pool via REUTERS)
(Pool via REUTERS)

Gareth Southgate says Harry Kane has been under “immense pressure” during Euro 2020 but believe his goal against Germany will release the England captain’s shackles.

Kane broke his tournament duck with a first goal in four matches to cap Tuesday’s historic 2-0 at Wembley, as England set up a quarter-final against Ukraine on Saturday.

After struggling to make an impact during the group stage, Kane was again subdued before helping to create the opening goal for Raheem Sterling and clinching a famous victory by heading home Jack Grealish’s cross.

Southgate believes the goal could potentially sparking lift-off for Kane, and compared his form to Alan Shearer’s 12-game goal drought for England in the run-up to Euro ‘96.

“The life of a centre forward is a lot of pressure,” Southgate said.

“There is a huge expectation and – although at times it would feel from the outside it is a glamorous position to be in and they certainly get paid well – it comes with immense pressure and expectation. It is important as a manager to understand that and have empathy with that.

“Not only is there the public expectation but there is an inherent desire and drive that centre forwards have that if you win the game they don’t score and they are irritated. They cannot help that. That is the mindset of the top players.

“So Tuesday will have been a perfect day for Harry. He wants the team to win more than anything else but for the team to win and him to score, without a doubt that will put a big smile on his face.

“I played with Alan in ‘96 and the change in him once he got that goal [in the opening game against Switzerland]. I remember being in China [on the pre-tournament trip] and it was another game without a goal and you could sense how it was for him.

“So that will be a huge release for Harry, there is no question about that.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Before Kane broke his duck, Sterling had shouldered the burden, scoring all three of England’s goals at the Finals to continue a remarkable turnaround in his own international strike rate.

Sterling’s double in England’s 3-2 win over Spain in October 2018 ended a three-year, 27-game barren sequence for England and he has since scored 15 times in his last 20 internationals, including his first goal at a major tournament in the opening group game against Croatia.

Southgate revealed that night in Seville was a “lift-off” moment for the Manchester City winger and praised his “incredible resilience and hunger”.

“We know with Harry and Raheem, their goalscoring record with us has been immense and so important. We cannot just expect Harry to be the one to deliver, so Raheem has weighed in at a crucial moment and is looking electric,” Southgate said.

“If we can get Harry scoring as well, that is great for us as a team.

“Raheem was probably only one of the players to come back from the World Cup with a different feeling and I talked to him at length about that and I think Seville was a really lift-off moment for him.

“You could almost see it. He almost jumped into the second tier of the stadium if you look at the celebration that night of his goal. I really feel this was a significant moment for him and of course, he had been scoring for his club but had not been able to translate that across.

“Now I think he feels happy in our environment, feels he can be himself, knows the respect we have for him and yes, his performance in every game this tournament, he has been a huge threat for every opponent.

“Raheem is a fighter. He has got an incredible resilience and hunger. He has developed over the last couple of years this real hunger to score. Even in the games where the ball has flashed across the box earlier in the tournament, he has been in between the posts, he is finding himself in these areas.

“His drive is fantastic. We know the journey he has been on with England and I am so happy for him to be able to deliver the performances he has. To deliver them at Wembley will have been really special for him and the goals return is incredible. Absolutely incredible, really.”

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