Gareth Southgate has backed England captain Harry Kane to become the country’s record goalscorer ahead of winning his 50th cap, but he insists the striker is also desperate to achieve team success with the national side.
The Tottenham forward will lead the Three Lions out in their Nations League Group A2 fixture in Belgium on Sunday looking to add to his 32-goal tally.
Big Weekend: Belgium v England, Scotland, Bale, France
He is only 21 off Wayne Rooney’s landmark figure of 53 and, aged only 27, England boss Southgate says there is plenty more to come from Kane.
“In terms of what is possible, the goalscoring record is the really interesting one because his strike rate for us is quite phenomenal and he has time on his side to chase Wayne’s record, which would be a remarkable feat,” Southgate said.
“I know from his perspective, while the personal achievement is something he is driven towards, he is all about the team winning.
“He has been to a World Cup and won the golden boot, but in the end you want to win as a team and he is totally focused on that and the team having success.”
Southgate first worked with the forward with England’s Under-21s and says his first ever senior goal against Lithuania in 2015, while Roy Hodgson was in charge of the national team, is a moment that stands out when he thinks of Kane’s 32 strikes for his country.
He added: “The first thing that springs to mind is his first goal for England with Roy because we were with the Under-21s and whenever one of your players get called into the seniors, you are looking at how they get on.
“I remember being in a hotel and hearing he had scored and that was a brilliant moment for all of us because you like to see those boys progress and do well.
“The equaliser at Hampden, that was a very important goal for us at a critical moment and of course his goals at the World Cup.
“To win the golden boot is an incredible personal achievement. There have been so many, but it is a special moment for him. We have had three or four players get to the 50-cap milestone in the last year and for all of them it is a fantastic achievement.”
Declan Rice praised Kane’s leadership qualities and admitted he is looking to learn as much as possible from the Tottenham hitman.
The West Ham midfielder has worn the armband at his club side on occasions this season when regular captain Mark Noble has been out of the team.
“With H, you feel his presence all the time. If you look at the other night, beforehand he is in the changing room, getting everyone ready and talking to the lads individually,” Rice said.
“For a youngster like me, who is aspiring to be a future captain, you have to look at what he does. He might not be the loudest on the pitch, but the way he takes the ball under pressure and gets defences scared, he is a real leader.”
Rice is expected to start in Belgium on Sunday but all eyes will be on whether Southgate selects Jack Grealish in the XI for the first time in a competitive fixture.
The Aston Villa playmaker has often been compared to Mason Mount, with the latter on the receiving end of criticism from rival fans this season.
After the pair played together in England’s 3-0 win over the Republic of Ireland, Rice insisted there is no reason why that cannot continue.
He added: “If you look at Jack and Mas, there will always be comparisons, but they are playing in two different parts of the pitch.
“Mason now at Chelsea is playing as an attacking eight and Jack is playing off the left and we saw the other night they can both play in the same team and they are both great players we should be valuing.”
England will be without the suspended Harry Maguire and Reece James for Sunday’s game, but Jude Bellingham has remained part of the senior set-up after he made his debut in the victory over Ireland on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Harry Kane’s luxury Range Rover has been stolen from outside an address in north-east London, according to reports.
Thieves used an electronic device to open the £100,000 car in Chingford before making off with it, the Sun newspaper reported.
The Metropolitan Police said officers received a report of a theft of a vehicle from outside a residential property in the Chingford area on October 25.
Tottenham declined to comment on the story and said it was a “private matter”.
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