Harry Kane ready for Euro 2020 liftoff like Shearer in 96, says Southgate

Gareth Southgate has predicted that Harry Kane is poised for liftoff at Euro 2020 after his late goal in the emotional 2-0 victory against Germany in the last 16 at Wembley.

The England captain had drawn blanks in each of the three group-stage game and attracted criticism for the level of his all-round game. Against Germany, he worked around the edges of a tight match but the moment he had dreamed of came on 86 minutes.

With England leading 1-0 through Raheem Sterling’s third goal of the tournament, Kane stooped to head home a cross from Jack Grealish, who was on as a substitute, and Southgate suggested that the striker could now enjoy a similar sense of liberation to that of Alan Shearer at Euro 96.

Shearer had entered the finals on the back of a 12-game scoring drought and with the then manager, Terry Venables, under pressure to drop the striker. But Shearer caught fire with a goal in the opening game of the tournament against Switzerland and finished as the Golden Boot winner with five.

England’s players had a recovery session on Wednesday, with those not involved against Germany going through a tougher workout, as the focus turned towards the quarter‑final in Rome against Ukraine on Saturday.

“I played with Alan in ’96, and the change in him once he got that goal [against Switzerland] … ” Southgate said.

“I remember being in China and Alan not scoring [in the final warm-up game against China]. It was another game without a goal and you could sense how it was for him. So Germany will be a high release for Harry – there is no question about that.

“We know with Harry and Raheem … their goalscoring record with us has been immense. We cannot just expect Harry to be the one to deliver so Raheem has weighed in at a crucial moment and is looking electric but if we can get Harry scoring as well that is great for us as a team.”

Kane said before the Germany game that he was able to blot out the background noise and, if he had a chance, he knew he would take it. He added that his priority was to peak in the knockout rounds.

“The life of a centre-forward is a lot of pressure,” Southgate said. “There is a huge expectation and, although at times it would feel from the outside it is a glamorous position to be in and they certainly get paid well, it comes with immense pressure and expectation. It is important as a manager to understand that and have empathy with that.

“Not only is there the public expectation but there is also an inherent desire and drive that centre-forwards have that if you win the game and they don’t score, they are irritated. They cannot help that. That is the mindset of the top players.

“So Tuesday will have been a perfect day for Harry. He wants the team to win more than anything else but for the team to win and him to score, without a doubt that will put a big smile on his face.”

Kane described a feeling of “pure elation and pure joy” when the ball hit the net – a moment that would stick with him for ever.

He said his debut goal against Lithuania in 2015 and the last‑gasp winner against Tunisia at the 2018 World Cup have been his favourites in an England shirt but that has now changed.

“The goal against Germany goes pretty much to the top of the list,” Kane said.

The England squad got back to their St George’s Park base at about midnight on Tuesday, having watched Ukraine’s extra-time victory against Sweden on the bus from London.

“We have a vision of where we want to be and it’s not just winning one-off knockout games – it’s going all the way,” Kane said. “We know that if we play to our highest ability then we should have enough to win [against Ukraine]. But it’s knockout football and anything can happen.”