World Cup 2018

England Should be Extremely Grateful they have Harry Kane

As Peru and Tunisia head home from the World Cup, they will be casting envious glances towards England; jealous of the fact Harry Kane is not theirs. Both teams have played attractive football in their games but lacked that star forward who can put the ball in the back of the net.

If they had, there is every chance they would be joining England in the last 16 of the tournament. Instead, they will be watching it from home like the rest of us. It is a situation that England would have found themselves in too if it weren’t for the fact they have the Tottenham man leading the line this summer.

His two goals against Tunisia secured all three points and a hattrick against Panama was key to victory in that game also. The 6-1 rout of the Panamanians took him to five in this competition so far, taking him to the top of the goalscoring charts ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku. England’s biggest ever win at a World Cup was one built on the back of Kane’s impressive work once more.

Time and time again

He has now scored five per cent of all England goals at a World Cup and became only the third player in the nation’s history to score a hattrick at the tournament, joining Gary Lineker and Geoff Hurst in doing so. That is legendary company indeed.

Two may have come from the penalty spot and one off his back, but that is unlikely to register on Kane’s radar. His goal is to put the ball in the back of the net and it is one he achieves time and time again.

His eyes are firmly on the Golden Boot, a trophy he declared he would have to compete with Cristiano Ronaldo for before England had even begun their campaign. Many scoffed at that point, but they aren’t mocking just two games into the competition.

Kane is a striker to be feared and even the best defensive teams at this tournament will be worried about the prospect of facing him. The Tottenham teammates that form Belgium’s defence, England’s next opponents, will know they’re in for trouble should he start.

One only has to look at how Panama and Tunisia’s defenders resorted to the dark arts to show the respect that Kane now demands.

Feared

England’s group opponents will not be the last ones to manhandle Kane in this tournament; in this kind of form, it is the only viable strategy for stopping him. Not that it has, of course.

Even when he isn’t scoring goals he is a constant threat, linking up play or creating chances, such as the knockdown that set up Raheem Sterling and then John Stones for England’s fourth against Panama.

Not since Wayne Rooney at Euro 2004 has a tournament been this fearful of an English centre-forward. Not since Rooney’s whirlwind displays at that tournament has an English striker given them justification to be so fearful.

There may be some still foolish enough to debate whether he is world class, but the numbers alone speak for themselves. Kane has 108 Premier League goals in 153 appearances – that’s more than legends such as Didier Drogba, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Dennis Bergkamp.

Only 152 goals separate him from Alan Shearer at the top of the standings and, given Kane has time on his hands, that record looks extremely likely to fall. In fact, Shearer expects it to do just that.

Compare him to the modern stars and one becomes more impressed. For example, Lionel Messi has managed five World Cup goals in 1444 minutes; Kane has the same tally in 52. In fact, with a record of 18 international goals in 26 games so far, Wayne Rooney must be fearful that his place at the top of the England rankings will be taken from him before long.

Like Shearer’s Premier League record, Kane is hurtling towards it at an astonishing pace.

Elite level

These numbers are just further proof the Tottenham Hotspur striker is playing at the elite level. He may not have the finesse of Messi or the sheer power of Ronaldo but his numbers stand up. Both Barcelona and Real Madrid would be happy to have Kane leading their line, as would every other side in world football.

Indeed, given the manner in which Spurs players have moved to the Bernabeu over the years, that feels like a move Madrid will look to make at some point in future.

Losing him to another team is not a worry that England will ever have, though. Instead, they can rest comfortably in the knowledge that he is their man. That is a privileged position to be in, as this World Cup is already proving.

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