Gareth Southgate says Harry Kane deserves to be ranked among England’s all-time greats after he moved closer to becoming the Three Lions’ record goalscorer with the decisive penalty in Saturday’s 2-1 friendly against Switzerland.
Kane netted from the spot late in the second half at Wembley to reach 49 England goals, moving him ahead of Gary Lineker and into a second place tie with Bobby Charlton.
Only Wayne Rooney, with 53 goals, has scored more times for England and it would be little surprise if Kane broke the record later this year.
England captain Kane, who made his international debut seven years ago this month, has reached 49 goals in just 68 appearances, while Manchester United legend Charlton took 101 to hit that total.
“The names he is amongst are incredible. He would appreciate that history and it will mean a lot to him. You would have to say he looks favourite to do that. I don’t want to put a curse on it by saying anymore!” Southgate said.
“I’d like him to break it in the World Cup final. If he doesn’t break it before then people will be saying he shouldn’t be in the team.
“He’s quite calm about it. He’s confident he can get there, because his goals per game record is phenomenally good.”
While Kane admits he would love to break Rooney’s record, it is the World Cup winners’ medal earned by Charlton in 1966 that would mean the most to the Tottenham star.
“I always say it’s amazing company to be with. I’m proud to be doing that and to be among those names,” Kane said.
“It’s a big year ahead and a chance to get some more goals. We’ll see what happens.”
Kane will have a chance to end England’s long wait to get their hands on the trophy in Qatar later this year, but Southgate’s side still have plenty to work on after this erratic display.
With just eight months until the World Cup gets underway, Southgate used England’s first game of 2022 to experiment and the results were underwhelming for long periods.
Breel Embolo put Switzerland ahead in a first half dominated by the visitors before Luke Shaw’s equaliser.
Kane restored order but Southgate will hope this was just a rare blip from his Euro 2020 runners-up, who host Ivory Coast in another friendly on Tuesday.
Really good test
“It was a really good test. We went behind and we had tactical problems to solve,” Southgate said.
“We learned a lot about some new players and some inexperienced players in an international shirt.”
Southgate had warned it would be wrong to expect too much from a raw side featuring debutants in Crystal Palace defender Marc Guehi and Southampton right-back Kyle Walker-Peters, while Conor Gallagher was making only his second appearance in midfield.
Ben White joined Guehi and Conor Coady in England’s back three and their lack of international experience was often exposed by a lively Swiss side who took the lead in the 22nd minute.
Xherdan Shaqiri whipped in a pin-point cross and White misjudged the flight of the ball as Embolo got behind him, evading the slow to react Kyle Walker-Peters to plant a close-range header past Jordan Pickford.
Shaqiri’s corner almost caught Pickford napping as it struck the base of the near-post, before the England keeper kept out Ricardo Rodriguez’s powerful strike.
Lucky not to be further behind, England equalised in first half stoppage-time.
Fabian Frei’s sloppy pass was intercepted by Walker-Peters deep inside his own half and Gallagher’s delivery rolled to the edge of the area, where Shaw smashed a ferocious shot past Jonas Omlin.
Forgettable in the first half, England improved after the interval and Kane won it in the 78th minute.
Steven Zuber blocked Guehi’s header with his arm, an offence punished after a VAR check, and Kane stepped up to drill the penalty past Omlin.