What a rise Harry Kane has had.
The 24-year-old was earlier named England captain for the World Cup by manager Gareth Southgate, completing yet another fabulous season for the Tottenham striker.
Kane has gone from strength to strength since making his Premier League debut five years ago, with his hard work, dedication and passion for self-improvement rewarded with the Three Lions’ captain’s armband.
Oli Stein looks at why Southgate made the perfect appointment.
Setting the standard
As a struggling Championship striker at Leicester City in 2012/13, not much was expected of the then 19-year-old, but two goals in 13 games for the Foxes never eroded his desire to succeed.
The 24-year-old is now one of the best strikers in world football and no-one is more responsible for his drastic rise as a footballer than the player himself. Kane epitomises hard work, dedication, determination and passion.
All crucial mental attributes any manager wants permeating throughout their squad.
Harry has some outstanding personal qualities… One of the most important things for a captain is that they set the standard every day. – Gareth Southgate on Kane’s work ethic.
It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that Southgate chose the embodiment of hard work to lead England at the World Cup.
The captain is the player that sets the standard for the others to follow. He is tasked with inspiring his teammates, something that Kane’s performances and work ethic in training most certainly do.
Kane’s unfaltering self-belief
Perhaps the most important mental quality Kane brings to England is self-belief. The Tottenham striker is the ultimate underdog story, reflecting England’s struggles in recent tournaments.
It’s important for the Three Lions to have a player leading them that not only believes in himself, but the team too.
He has belief and high standards and… My feeling is that over the last 18 months in the camps that he’s been with us he has shown that he has got the desire to take that into a team environment. – Southgate on Kane’s self-belief.
He’s demonstrated that it’s possible to consistently be one of the world’s best through sheer hard graft, exactly the route England need to take.
Moreover, Kane has aptly shown his ability to cope with responsibility and pressure. His added time equaliser against Scotland at Hampden Park to rescue England from a qualifying defeat on his first game as captain is evidence for as much.
Leading from the front
Kane will literally lead the team from the front as England’s undisputed number nine, but some will question the suitability as a striker as captain.
This is because it’s perceived that striker’s aren’t in the thick of the action as much as a central midfielder, for example, but Kane’s official appointment doesn’t stop Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson from imposing his own touch on the team despite not having the armband.
This, too, is important as Kane hasn’t been in the best form since returning from an injury lay-off in Spurs’ 3-1 away victory over Chelsea in April.
Superficially, the striker doesn’t seem to be in the best mental state, particularly affected by the jibes around his claiming Christian Eriksen’s free-kick against Stoke City. It’s crucial, therefore, that he has support in the role from Henderson.
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