Spurs and England pain motivates hurting Kane

By Dom Farrell 8 June 2019 617
Spurs and England pain motivates hurting Kane

Harry Kane has challenged his England team-mates to learn from another semi-final loss that compounded a week of personal heartache for the Tottenham striker.

Kane made his first appearance in almost two months following his latest ankle setback when Spurs went down 2-0 to Liverpool in last Saturday's Champions League final.

Gareth Southgate opted not to start his captain against Netherlands in Guimaraes but he came on at half-time for Marcus Rashford, who was injured in a challenge with Denzel Dumfries after winning and converting a penalty that opened the scoring.

But Kane was left once again frustrated and feeding off scraps against a defence marshalled by Virgil van Dijk, with the Three Lions subsiding to a 3-1 extra-time loss – errors from John Stones and Ross Barkley leading to a Kyle Walker own-goal and a late Quincy Promes strike after Matthijs de Ligt powered in a headed equaliser, atoning for his earlier foul on Rashford.

"It hurts, it hurts a lot," Kane said. "Of course, this week could have been so different and, as a professional athlete, that's what you dream about.

"You dream about lifting trophies and winning games, so it'll hurt over the summer. It's something you can't just clear out of your mind.

"But I think it's important, not just for me but for all the lads who've had tough years to refresh as much as possible with the mind and body.

"Of course, it comes around fast. Before we know it, it will be the Premier League again and we'll be talking again.

"But it hurts. There's nothing else I can say. I want to win, the boys want to win and the Spurs boys want to win.

"It wasn't our week. The only thing you can do is learn from it."

Since their surprise run to the World Cup semi-finals last year, England have changed formation and become a more potent attacking force – besting Spain and Russia 2018 conquerors Croatia in their Nations League group before plundering five goals apiece against the Czech Republic and Montenegro to emphatically kick-off qualifying for Euro 2020 three months ago.

But Thursday's loss at Estadio D. Afonso Henriques, where Southgate's men will return for Sunday's third-place match against Switzerland, felt in some ways like being transported back to the Moscow defeat to Croatia as a technically savvy midfield systematically sapped England and broke them down.

Even so, Kane is keen not to lose sight of the bigger picture.

"It would have been easier just to take your foot off the gas and be happy with what we achieved," he said.

"But we got to a semi-final [in a competition] of the best 12 teams in Europe. We had a tough group with Spain and Croatia and we got through. That was progression.

"Of course it hurts a bit to lose in a semi-final like this, but we're knocking on the door and that's what we want to take inspiration from."

After dealing with their unwanted weekend obligation, England will begin a year-long countdown to a Euro 2020 tournament that concludes with semi-finals and a final at Wembley.

Kane believes such a huge incentive will encourage his team-mates to harness their latest bitter setback.

"That's the challenge now," he added. "We won't know until we get there, of course, but we've got to use these big games and these big disappointments to motivate us and help us learn.

"We are a young team but more of us now are playing big games for club and country. It's a good sign of where the nation's going.

"But, of course, in those big moments it's down to us now to progress and find a way to win."

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Dom Farrell

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