Harry Kane says winning World Cup with England would trump Champions League victory with Tottenham

Mark Critchley
The Independent

Harry Kane believes success with England at this summer’s World Cup 2018 would trump any achievement at club level with Tottenham Hotspur as he prepares to lead the national team in Russia.

Gareth Southgate’s squad fly out to their base in the rural village of Repino, 19 miles north of St Petersburg, on Tuesday and captain Kane is confident that he and his team-mates can return home triumphant in a month’s time.

The 24-year-old claimed last month that anything less than lifting the World Cup trophy in Moscow on 15 July would represent failure for England, despite a poor record in recent international tournaments and low expectations back at home.

Kane, who signed a new contract with Tottenham last week, has now revealed that though he hopes to claim all honours at club level in the years to come, even winning the Champions League would not compare to success in Russia this summer.

“It is hard to look beyond the World Cup - I don’t think any player would tell you any different,” the England captain said. “It is the one competition that everybody dreams of winning. That is no. 1, first and foremost.

“Obviously I understand you have got the Champions League and Premier League – so many big competitions – and it is every season. But for me I don’t think it gets much bigger than the World Cup.

“I would be surprised if the majority of players did not say the World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world. I would love to win everything with Tottenham, but for me personally the World Cup outweighs them all.”

Having rotated the captaincy throughout England’s qualifying campaign in an attempt to foster a culture of leadership within his squad, Southgate eventually selected Kane to wear the armband in Russia.

Jordan Henderson, Liverpool’s club captain, was the other contender for the role and though Kane does not regularly skipper Tottenham, he does not believe he needs to change his game much in order to take on the “huge honour”.

“I’ve always been someone who is vocal to players, to push myself,” he said. “I try to lead by example. On the pitch I try to work hard every game, play with pride and passion and that’s what I will do with the armband as well.

“I think it’s important that we have other players who take responsibility and take ownership of the team as well. When players are having a good or bad day, there are players around who can see that and do something about it.”

Kane will not be afraid of telling-off his team-mates, either. “I can do that, but we can all do that. In training it happens all the time. We want to push ourselves. Someone can make mistakes, or give the wrong ball, but effort is the most important thing. There is no excuse not to run about and give your all.”


Kane met Prince William in training last week (Getty)

Asked whether it was emotional to learn he would lead his country in Russia, he added: “Yes, it was. Tears from mum, she likes a cry. It is obviously a special moment. You grow up and you think of these things and you never know if you are going to achieve them.

“A lot of fans see the end product, they see you doing well, but they don't see the struggles and hard times along the way. But the mums, dads and fiancés do.”

Kane himself did not cry, but he has not ruled out future waterworks. “I’m not someone who cries. Maybe if we win the World Cup I will cry, but it was a big smile on my face. I knew how much it meant to me and my family.”

And while captaining his country will be special, a World Cup goal would be only more welcome. Kane was just beginning to break into Tottenham’s first team at the time of Brazil 2014 and his experiences of international tournaments since then are best forgotten.

Kane finished goalless as England were eliminated in the group stages of 2015’s Under-21 Euros. A year later, at Euro 2016, Kane failed to find the net again. His individual display in the last-16 defeat to Iceland was his worst of the tournament.

“It was a down, a bad moment for us,” he said of that night in Nice. “I’m confident it won’t happen - I won’t say 100 percent it won’t happen because you never know in football, but I think in this team we wear our heart on our sleeve.

“We are proud to be here, we will work hard, be energetic. So first and foremost we will run around and do that aspect of the game. We have a lot of attacking flair who can do some damage.””

On his personal goal record at international tournaments, Kane added: “It’s something I want to change, hopefully this summer. I’ve always felt you go through spells. The ball goes in, sometimes it doesn't - like August every year for me. That’s part of the game.

“But I always look at my game and see how I can get better. So that’s big tournaments. Obviously that’s only one for me but there is the Under-21s as well. But I want to score in tournament football and that’s what I will try to do.”

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