By Brian Bariyo Tumuramye
Gareth Southgate described Harry Kane as an “incredible example” to England’s young players after his hat-trick inspired them to a 4-0 win over Bulgaria.
Kane opened the scoring from Raheem Sterling’s cut-back in the first half at Wembley before netting two second-half penalties as England continued their perfect start to Euro 2020 qualifying.
The Spurs striker’s hat-trick took him to 25 in 40 appearances for England, putting him above World Cup-winner Sir Geoff Hurst in the scoring charts and earning effusive praise from his manager, who hailed Kane’s professionalism and work-rate in his post-match press conference.
“We stood and watched him take penalties for about 20 minutes yesterday and when you watch the process that he goes through, he just gives himself every chance of succeeding by that deliberate practice,” said Southgate.
“For a youngster to be able to watch what he does, being able study him and see his professionalism and the way he works at his game, it’s an incredible example.
“If you can be confident on the bench when a penalty is given, then we’re as confident as we possibly could be.
“You know that there is always a chance that even the most outstanding [penalty] can be saved, but in those moments he really has a supreme temperament and technique.”
Kane also had a hand in England’s third goal, intercepting a Bulgaria pass and providing the cross for Sterling to convert from close range.
“He works so hard for the team and is more than happy to drop into areas to leave space for others and play passes into others,” added Southgate.
“But when he gets his moment, then he just has an outstanding mindset and, technically, he’s a top, top finisher.
“But I go back to the fact that’s hours and hours of practice and if you talk to some of the other forwards in the squad, they would talk to you about how big an impression that has had on them and the way they practice when they go back to their clubs.
“Because sometimes you can take part in finishing practices that can be a little bit half-hearted or not as focused as they might be, but he’s on it every single time. That’s where you get the transfer into the game.”
Asked how it felt to overtake Hurst in the scoring charts, Kane said: “Whenever stuff like that happens it’s always a proud moment for me and it shows the hard work that I’m putting in is paying off.
“Hopefully I can keep scoring goals for many years to come. Whenever I put an England shirt on it’s always to try and score and help the team and thankfully today it went well for me.
“When I’m playing with players like Raz (Raheem Sterling) and (Marcus) Rashford, they are going to create so many chances, they are so good in one-v-ones, they are going to win penalties, so I’ve got to make sure I’m ready for the opportunities that come my way.”
One of the young players Southgate hopes Kane’s influence will rub off on is 20-year-old Mason Mount, who came off the bench for his England debut in the second half at Wembley.