Pro­lific Kane on tar­get to over­haul Rooney’s Eng­land goals record

The National - News - - SPORT FOOTBALL - RICHARD JOLLY English foot­ball cor­re­spon­dent

The low, far-post fin­ish made it four goals in four days. Or a joint record 12 for Eng­land in a cal­en­dar year. Or 32 in an in­ter­na­tional ca­reer which, strange as it sounds, is still only four years and eight months old. In dou­bling Eng­land’s lead in Kosovo, Harry Kane ex­tended his ex­tra­or­di­nary scor­ing se­quence.

No one scored more goals in Eng­land’s first 90 years of in­ter­na­tional foot­ball than Kane has mus­tered in the past five.

Of the quin­tet of play­ers ahead of him in Eng­land’s all­time scor­ing charts, only Jimmy Greaves reached 32 goals in fewer games than Kane, who has 45 caps. It took Wayne Rooney 78 matches.

“I love scor­ing goals,” said Kane and if that was a state­ment of the ob­vi­ous, he has shown a re­lent­less­ness.

Even though Spurs have strug­gled and some his Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur dis­plays have drawn crit­i­cism, Kane has 20 goals in 21 games for club and coun­try this sea­son. He has shown a preda­tor’s ca­pac­ity to prey on the weak and if Eng­land’s qual­i­fy­ing groups tend to con­sist of the sub­stan­dard, the po­tency of both Kane and an at­tack-minded team make them ap­pear still more frail. Routs be­come ever more fre­quent, in turn in­creas­ing Kane’s goal tally.

One Eng­land non­pareil be­lieves Kane will be­come another. “I think he has got a great chance of break­ing the record,” said Pe­ter Shilton af­ter the striker’s hat-trick in Thurs­day’s 7-0 thrashing of Mon­tene­gro.

Shilton’s tally of 125 caps will re­main un­chal­lenged for sev­eral more years, at the least. At Kane’s cur­rent rate of progress, he will be threat­en­ing Rooney’s record of 53 goals by the end of 2021. More re­al­is­ti­cally, per­haps, he could claim it at some stage in 2023, the year he turns 30.

It feels em­i­nently likely. There is a the­ory Kane may de­cline early – a com­bi­na­tion of his an­nual an­kle in­juries and the huge work­load of a man who has clocked up 277 games, largely in the high-in­ten­sity foot­ball of Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino and Gareth South­gate. There is a prece­dent for English for­wards peak­ing soon and then tail­ing off.

Greaves’ and Michael Owen’s last in­ter­na­tional goals came at 27, though Kane has never been as re­liant on pace as they were. He will not fall from favour un­der South­gate as they did un­der Alf Ram­sey and Fabio Capello re­spec­tively.

Tammy Abra­ham lacks Kane’s pass­ing while the Spurs for­ward can dou­ble up as sup­plier when Mar­cus Rash­ford and Ra­heem Ster­ling ac­cel­er­ate past him. While Rash­ford has been pro­lific for Eng­land re­cently, South­gate has sug­gested the Manch­ester United man is “hap­pi­est” op­er­at­ing off the flank. He seems Kane’s side­kick, not his suc­ces­sor.

In typ­i­cally down-to-earth fash­ion, Kane has shrugged off talk of over­haul­ing Rooney. “It’s still a long way off,” he said in Septem­ber, af­ter pass­ing Ge­off Hurst. He has added seven goals since then. Two months ago, he said his next land­mark was 30. He passed that against Mon­tene­gro.

He could be deemed a flat­track bully. Only four of his first 32 have come against elite na­tions: two ver­sus France, one apiece against Ger­many and Croa­tia.

Yet records mea­sure quan­tity of goals, rather than qual­ity of op­po­nents and Rooney was Eng­land’s high­est scorer in qual­i­fiers but, apart from Euro 2004, of­ten a let-down in tour­na­ments. Kane may have ben­e­fited from his per­fect penalty tak­ing against the min­nows – and with the speed and trick­ery of Ster­ling, Rash­ford and Jadon San­cho, Eng­land should keep win­ning spot­kicks – but it is al­ready the case that Gary Lineker is the only English­man with more World Cup goals. In four years, there may be none with more goals in the in­ter­na­tional game.


Harry Kane has 32 goals from 45 caps for Eng­land

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