For Harry Kane, the stars seem to align. Out of touch during the first part of Euro 2020, he has found his rhythm to the point that another Golden Boot will be among the prizes at stake for him when he leads England to the Wembley final with the ‘Italy Sunday.
Unable to buy a break in the group stage, the captain can now think of catching one of the bigger ones when he pulled his penalty in overtime in the semi-final against Denmark to see the keeper, Kasper Schmeichel, grope. the ball goes back to him. Kane scored the rebound to win and take him to four goals for the tournament, one behind Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Czech Patrik Schick.
Is fate at work? Kane isn’t the type of person to trust anything he can’t control. It’s all about the hard work, the processes, the rehearsals on the training ground. But as he contemplates the fourth major final of his career – the other three have been with Tottenham, each ending in loss – he can feel a freedom that hasn’t always been evident; certainly not in the previous two.
Ahead of the 2019 Champions League final against Liverpool and last season’s Carabao Cup final against Manchester City, Kane had engaged in battles to recover from ankle injuries. He did but, against Liverpool in particular, he would be way off pace. Kane’s other final came in the 2015 Capital One Cup against Chelsea.
Gareth Southgate has a fitness issue with Phil Foden set to miss a foot problem he felt after Friday’s practice session but the manager is expected to stick with the starting lineup of the match against Denmark. He may be happy that Kane is firing on all cylinders and turned out to be the tournament like the striker had always hoped for. The turning point for Kane came when he scored late in the last 16 victory over Germany. He got two more in the quarter-finals against Ukraine.
“I played three finals and two of them… it wasn’t rushed… but I had a few injuries before the game, so you focus more on getting back into shape than the final itself” , Kane said. “It’s nice to be back in that free lead final and to score for a few games in a row. I feel confident, I feel good and I have the impression that the team is really well placed.
Kane is driven by the desire to win a personal first piece of silverware and, when he lines up against Italian captain, Giorgio Chiellini, he will remember a heartbreak – with a slight touch. After Chiellini’s Juventus came back from behind to eliminate Kane and Spurs from the Champions League in 2018, the center-half criticized the London club’s mentality. “This is Tottenham’s story,” Chiellini said. “They are always missing something to get to the end.”
Kane said he remembered those words but, as usual, he was focused on the challenge ahead. “Look, he’s a respected footballer, a fantastic player, so I’m looking forward to another battle,” Kane said. “It’s not just me against Chiellini. It’s about doing what we’ve been doing as a group for the last four or five years, being calm and ruthless at times.
Kane was told he would become the second English player to score a goal in a triumphant major final – after Sir Geoff Hurst in the 1966 World Cup against West Germany.
“As a forward, it’s always the moment you dream of,” Kane said. “Sir Geoff has an incredible moment in history. These opportunities are there for you, you have the opportunity to create your own story. We reconnected with our fans at the 2018 World Cup and this tournament was about going one step further and trying to win it. We think we can beat any team we play with, so it’s all about performing under pressure, which we have done so far. “