Harry Kane hits back at Gary Lineker following X-rated criticism of England's Euro 2024 campaign

England captain and former Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane
-Credit: (Image: Richard Pelham/Getty Images)

England captain Harry Kane has urged former England stars to be mindful of their words when criticising the current squad, reminding them of the pressures that come with donning the national team kit and competing in major tournaments.

Despite being poised to advance to the knockout stages of the European Championship this summer atop Group C, England's unconvincing performances against Serbia and Denmark have attracted harsh commentary. Gary Lineker described the display on his podcast as "s***" and remarked that Kane "needs to do a lot better", with Alan Shearer echoing the criticism.

Speaking ahead of the final group match against Slovenia, Kane urged ex-England players to be mindful of their words. "I would never want to be disrespectful to any player, especially a player who has worn the shirt and knows what it is like to play for England," he said.

"The bottom line is we haven't won anything as a nation for a long, long time and a lot of these players were part of that as well and they know how tough it is, so it is not digging anyone out. It is just the reality that they do know it is tough to play in these major tournaments and tough to play for England.

"I would never disrespect any ex-player. All I would say is remember what it is like to wear the shirt and that their words are listened to. Some of the lads, I don't know how many, but we do hear it.

"We all want to win a major tournament and I'm sure they want us to win a major tournament and being as helpful as they can and building the lads up with confidence would be a much better way of going about it."

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Kane says none of England's young players have mentioned the criticism to him, but he says the modern world means "everything pops up, it's hard to switch off from everything". Clips quickly spread across social media following the draw with Denmark and the England captain suspects some comments have been maximised for engagement.

"There will be games where I get stick or other players will get stick," Kane said. "Maybe when I'm 40 or 50 I'll be on one of those shows trying to dig players out I hope I'm not. It might change. But it is what it is.

"But from my point of view, with the experience of players who have been there and maybe not performed well in certain games, it's important to remember how tough it is to play for England," he said.

When asked if he would reach out to any of the pundits, Kane responded: "It depends on the situation, I guess. I don't think there's a need for it at the moment.

"With podcasts and things like that, people are trying to promote their own channels and sometimes the headline, because you want the most views, isn't always what people want to see.

"People will do things for their own gain, that's just life, but first and foremost we try to ignore it. But we should try to back the English players as much as possible because we are doing all we can to make everyone proud. The fans and pundits proud. I know they would love nothing more if we are all celebrating after the Euros."