Content Editor at Free Super Tips, Alex was born in the shadow of Old Trafford and is an avid Man Utd fan. After graduating from university he combined his love of football, writing and betting to join FST and now closely follows goings-on in all of the top European leagues.
A few eyebrows were raised prior to the 2018 World Cup when Gareth Southgate named the youthful Harry Kane as England’s official captain for the tournament. Most were expecting Jordan Henderson, who led Liverpool to the Champions League final, to take the armband, but Southgate trusted his star player to take on the responsibility.
You won’t find many in England complaining about that decision now. Kane has scored six goals in his three World Cup appearances so far, and will long be remembered for leading The Three Lions to their first ever World Cup penalty shootout victory against Colombia in the last 16.
Obviously there is a lot more to captaincy than scoring goals, but there is very little you can criticise Kane for at the moment. Leading England to World Cup glory is stretch, but if he can end the 52 year drought he would surely go down as one of the greats.
England’s Recent Captains
2014 World Cup – It was only four years ago that Steven Gerrard led England out onto the Brazilian turf for his second World Cup captaincy, but it seems like another era. A tournament riddled with poor performances for the entire team saw England eliminated at the group stages, and while you certainly can’t pin the blame on Liverpool’s legendary midfielder you also can’t say that he lifted the team.
He may have led Liverpool to glory numerous occasions, but at the 2014 World Cup he never really left a mark. His famed passing ability deserted him, leaving him with a pass completion rate lower than the likes of Jason Davidson of Australia and Michael Umana of Costa Rica. He had just two shots in his three matches in Brazil, hitting the target with neither of them.
2010 World Cup – Gerrard fared a bit better than four years later when he captained England in South Africa, but it still wasn’t exactly an outrageous show of his undoubted abilities. He scored four minutes into his tournament as England took the lead against the United States, and one of his 224 attempted passes hit the spot later in the tournament as he provided an assist for Matthew Upson. That was during their 4-1 hammering at the hands of Germany though.
2006 World Cup – A couple of months before entering his final season at Real Madrid, David Beckham led England out to face Paraguay in Frankfurt. This was his second World Cup wearing the armband for England, and while there were some bright sparks from his hallowed right foot it ultimately proved fruitless. He provided a number of delectable crosses against Trinidad & Tobago, one of which was eventually converted by Peter Crouch. He ended up with two assists in that game and scored the winner against Ecuador in the last 16.
England’s hour of need saw Beckham residing in the dugout though. He was substituted in the 52nd minute for Aaron Lennon against Portugal, ten minutes before that iconic wink from Ronaldo after Wayne Rooney’s frustrated stamp. That quarter final clash went to penalties, where Beckham’s absence was notable as Sven Goran Eriksson’s side missed three of their four spot kicks.
Beckham followed the tournament by stepping down as captain.
2002 World Cup – David Beckham took the armband in 2002 as well as the World Cup visited Asia, and he was hoping for a measure of redemption after his sending off against Argentina four years earlier. In fairness he did just that, providing the assist for Sol Campbell in England’s opener and then bagging a penalty against those old foes Argentina in the second match. He provided a further two assists in the last 16 against Denmark as England won 3-0, but their journey would end in the quarter finals against eventual winners Brazil.
Harry Kane Shoulders Responsibility
It’s not often that you see an England captain leading the line at the World Cup. In fact, it’s just the second time that an out and out striker has captained England at the World Cup, following in Alan Shearer’s footsteps in 1998. Wayne Rooney never took the armband on the grandest stage only due to timing, although after his showing at Euro 2016 you wouldn’t exactly relish the chance to see that.
It’s a huge responsibility for Kane to take on. He’s already shouldering all the goalscoring responsibility as the main striker, but in addition to that he now has to take on the role of leading his team and lifting spirits. It goes without saying that he’s done a fine job on both fronts so far.
England have endured some tough times in this tournament. Their inability to break Tunisia’s defence down was the first test, and they eventually passed that exam. Kane is a model professional in that regard, never letting his head drop and continuing doggedly to try and make the difference. As you would expect, it was his head that provided the winning goal there.
The thrashing of Panama was less reliant on him, but against Colombia he once again proved invaluable. He scored the opening goal from the penalty spot to take his tally to six World Cup goals, and he was invaluable in England’s hour of need later on that evening. Stepping up to take the first penalty in a shootout is a tough task to undertake, and the pressure is even greater when you’ve already put one past the goalkeeper earlier that game. In the end it didn’t matter if the keeper guessed right or not as he coolly dispatched it into the bottom corner. England’s first ever penalty shootout victory in a World Cup followed.
Six goals at a World Cup is a massive achievement by any player’s standards. Achieving that by the quarter finals with a supporting network of players who have been ineffectual at best is quite incredible though.
Kane’s World Cup Stats so Far
- Harry Kane is England’s youngest ever World Cup captain (24 years and 325 days). The second youngest was none other than Bobby Moore in 1966 (25 years and 81 days).
- After just three World Cup matches Harry Kane is England’s second highest World Cup goalscorer in history, four behind Gary Linekar.
- One more goal for Kane would see him break Linekar’s 32 year record as England’s highest scorer in a single World Cup tournament.
- Kane’s six World Cup goals is equal to the amount of World Cup goals scored by all other England World Cup captains since 1950 combined.
- Only one England player in history has won the World Cup Golden Boot (Gary Linkar in 1986).
- Kane’s hat trick against Panama was just the third hat trick scored by an England player at the World Cup. The most recent was Gary Linekar against Poland in 1986, and the first was Geoff Hurst’s in the 1966 final against West Germany.
Can Kane continue his record breaking World Cup against Sweden on Saturday? Let us know your thoughts.
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