Harry Kane has vowed that this England team will do their utmost to exorcise the ghosts of past tournaments and finally make the country proud of the national team.
The England captain, who played in the calamitous 2-1 defeat by Iceland in Euro 2016 and who is yet to score in a major international tournament, says he knows the team need to win back fans after multiple disappointments.
But he believes they can challenge the world’s best as they open their campaign against Tunisia tomorrow in Volgograd. ‘All we want to do is make the country proud,’ said Kane.
‘We need to get the nation back with us after the disappointment of the Euros. What happened in France two years ago was hard for everyone to take.
‘Hopefully we can go there and play with a freedom that other England teams haven’t had. All I can promise is that I’ll do my best and the team will too.’
With England having won only five of their opening matches in tournament football since 1950, the last win being in 2006, Kane has emphasised the importance of a winning start. ‘The first
game of any tournament is huge,’ said Kane. ‘If we win, then it gives us momentum but if we don’t win, then we won’t think we’re not going through.
‘Tunisia will want to put an upset on the cards but we won’t underestimate them because we know they’re a good team. We have to look to hit the ground running because we know that if we can take three points, then we’ll be in a great position.’
Kane says that, despite being captain, leadership will be shared among players but that he knows he has to deliver the goals. ‘It’s more a case of when you are England’s striker you have a responsibility to score the goals,’ he added.
‘As captain, maybe there will be even more expectation on my shoulders but it’s important to have four, five, six players who can lead. It’s not good having one player who the others look to when things aren’t going right’
Kane has scored 13 goals in 24 international appearances and said: ‘My game has always been about putting the team first. As a striker, first and foremost you have to have that little bit of selfishness when you are in front of goal. But if I had a team-mate in a better position, then I would give them the ball.’