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Harry Kane swipes back at Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer over England criticism

England's Harry Kane is seen playing darts before the press conference
Harry Kane knows England need to produce better - Reuters/John Sibley

Harry Kane has taken a swipe back at former England strikers Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer by suggesting they have ramped up their criticism of the national team for their own gain.

Lineker described England’s performance against Denmark as “s---” on his own ‘The Rest Is Football’ podcast, on which Shearer, who has also been critical of Gareth Southgate and his team, is a regular guest.

Kane’s own form in the Euros has also been the subject of criticism by Lineker and Shearer, who have urged him to put more effort in and stay higher up the pitch.

But England captain Kane has urged Lineker and Shearer, along with other former Three Lions players, to be more responsible with their opinions and pointed out, without provocation, that pundits with their own podcasts stood to gain from making the most noise.

Gary Lineker, sports broadcaster and former England soccer player smiles as he takes his seat in the Royal Box on Centre Court on day six of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London
Gary Lineker has not held back in his criticism of England since the draw with Denmark - AP/Alastair Grant

“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,” Kane said. “People will do things for their own gain, that’s just life.

“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, the fans and pundits proud. I know they would love nothing more if we are all celebrating after the Euros.”

Kane said he hoped he would never “dig out” England players if he moved into punditry at the end of his playing career and confirmed that the squad did care about the opinions of Lineker and Shearer.

“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,” Kane said. “But from my point of view, with the experience of players who have been there and maybe not played well in certain games and know how tough it is to play for England, maybe take a step back and see where you were and what it was like.

“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. What ex-players or ex-players who are pundits now have got to realise is that it is very hard not to listen to it now, especially for some players who are not used to it, or some players who are new to the environment.

“I always feel like they have a responsibility. I know they have got to be honest and give their opinion, but also they have a responsibility of being an ex-England player that a lot of players look up to. People do listen to them and people do care what they say.”

Kane also reminded Lineker, Shearer and Wayne Rooney, who is a columnist for the Times newspaper, that they were part of England teams who never won a trophy.

“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,” he said. “That 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 am sure they want us to win a major tournament. Being as helpful as they can and building the lads up with confidence would be a much better way of going about it.”

Kane said that none of the England players had mentioned the criticism of the ex-players to him yet, but he reiterated the fact he is sure they are aware of it.

“No one has mentioned it,” said Kane. “But we live in a world now where you look at your phone and everything pops up. It’s hard to switch off from everything.

Harry Kane of England celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 1-0 during the UEFA EURO 2024 group stage match between Denmark and England at Frankfurt Arena on June 20, 2024 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Harry Kane put England in front in Frankfurt before Denmark pulled a goal back - Getty Images/Catherine Ivill

“People are going to have their opinions – I’m not saying to not talk about it or for the pundits to say ‘this could be better, that could be better’. That’s part of being a fan, all I would say is trust is. As players we’ve been here before and done it a lot of us, trust us as much as possible, get behind us and help us achieve what we want to achieve and that’s to be successful.”

Declan Rice echoed the captain’s view. “I’m not disappointed because I’ve played football long enough now, I know how they work,” Rice told ITV. “That’s why I really do not get bothered about it at all. Look, they’re entitled to their opinion, they’re on the TV, they’re saying whatever they want.

“I know some of them personally, they’re great guys, but, like I said, they’ve been in our shoes as well and sometimes just to have that thought process, just before they speak that they have been where I’m sat, where other players have sat and not done well at tournaments.

“I don’t know why we feel like such a negative thing, we’re talking like we’re going out the tournament here! We’re top of the group, we need to stay positive, stay upbeat, let’s have some positivity going into games. Let’s give players the best confidence in the world.

“Your players like your Phil Fodens, your Sakas, your Jude Bellinghams, tell them they’re the best players in the world and make them read that and think I’m going to go out there and perform and give it absolutely everything. Rather than reading the negative comments sitting on their mind and then thinking that they can’t play a certain way. That’s the way I think about it, and I’m sure we have enough of them people as well which is good.”

Both Lineker and Shearer have defended their strong views. Lineker said: “All you can do is call it how you see it and tell the truth. It doesn’t have to be personal. There are no personal attacks on anyone’s character, nobody has accused anyone of not trying, because we know the players will be devastated by it.”

Shearer added: “If we, or whoever it was on the panel, didn’t say it as it was, we get criticised for not telling it how it is. We did a good job in doing that.”