Harry Kane urges pundits to remember own England experiences before criticising

Harry Kane wants outspoken ex-England players to remember what it is like to wear the shirt and how tough tournaments were for them before criticising Gareth Southgate’s side.

Among the favourites to win this summer’s European Championship, they sit top of Group C on four points heading into Tuesday’s final pool match against Slovenia in Cologne.

But, despite being all-but through with a match to spare, England’s disjointed displays in the 1-0 win against Serbia and 1-1 draw with Denmark has seen the team come under intense scrutiny.

Former striker Gary Lineker labelled the display “s***” on his podcast, having said that Kane “needs to do a lot better”, with fellow pundit Alan Shearer another critical voice.

Gary Lineker was critical of England’s display
Gary Lineker was critical of England’s display (John Walton/PA)

“I would never want to be disrespectful to any player, especially a player who has worn the shirt and knows what it is like to play for England,” skipper Kane said.

“But what ex-players or ex-players who are pundits now have got to realise is it is very hard not to listen to it now, especially for some players who are not used to it or some players who are new to the environment.

“I always feel like they have a responsibility. I know they have got to be honest and give their opinion but also they have a responsibility of being an ex-England player that a lot of players look up to that people do listen to them and people do care what they say.

“The bottom line is we haven’t won anything as a nation for a long, long time and a lot of these players were part of that as well and they know how tough it is, so it is not digging anyone out.

“It is just the reality that they do know it is tough to play in these major tournaments and tough to play for England.

“I would never disrespect any ex-player. All I would say is remember what it is like to wear the shirt and that their words are listened to. Some of the lads, I don’t know how many, but we do hear it.

“We all want to win a major tournament and I’m sure they want us to win a major tournament and being as helpful as they can and building the lads up with confidence would be a much better way of going about it.”

Kane says none of England’s young players have mentioned the criticism to him, but he says the modern world means “everything pops up, it’s hard to switch off from everything”.

Clips quickly spread across social media and the England captain suspects some comments have been maximised for engagement.

“There will be games where I get stick or other players will get stick,” Kane said. “Maybe when I’m 40 or 50 I’ll be on one of those shows trying to dig players out – I hope I’m not. It might change. But it is what it is.

“But from my point of view, with the experience of players who have been there and maybe not played well in certain games and know how tough it is to play for England to maybe take a step back and see where you were and what it was like.”

Asked whether he would contact any of the pundits, Kane said: “It depends on the situation, I guess. I don’t think there’s a need for it at the moment.

Harry Kane faced the media at England's media centre in Blankenhain on Sunday
Harry Kane faced the media at England’s media centre in Blankenhain on Sunday (Adam Davy/PA)

“With podcasts and things like that people are trying to promote their own channels and sometimes the headline, because you want the most views, isn’t always what people want to see.

“People will do things for their own gain, that’s just life, but first and foremost we try to ignore.

“But we should try to back the English players as much as possible because we are doing all we can to make everyone proud. The fans and pundits proud. I know they would love nothing more if we are all celebrating after the Euros.”

Declan Rice has responded to England’s critics
Declan Rice has responded to England’s critics (Adam Davy/PA)

Declan Rice is another member of England’s four-man leadership group and shares his captain’s views.

“I’m not disappointed because, look, I’ve played football long enough now, I know how they work,” the midfielder told ITV. “That’s why I really don’t get bothered by it at all.

“Look, they’re entitled to their opinion. They’re on the TV, they’re saying whatever they want. I know some of them personally. They’re great guys.

“But, like I said, they’ve been in our shoes as well, and sometimes just have that thought of process just before they speak that they have been where I’m sat and where our other players have sat and not done well at tournaments.

“So, look, I don’t know why we feel like it’s such a negative thing. We’re talking like we’re going out of the tournament here. You know, we’re top of the group. We need to stay positive, stay upbeat.”