Harry Kane says former England players have a ‘responsibility’ after criticism of Gary Lineker

Harry Kane responded to Gary Lineker's criticism of England's Euro 2024 campaign by saying that former internationals have a “responsibility” to reflect on the impact of their words.

England got here under scrutiny after a 1-1 draw with Denmark of their second group match at Euro 2024, with former striker Lineker branding the performance “shit”.

Kane said while he understood that pundits had an obligation to be honest, he added that former players should pay attention to the challenges involved in representing England given the country's historic and ongoing failures at major tournaments.

Asked specifically about Lineker's comments, Kane replied: “Former players have to be aware that it is very difficult not to listen to it these days, especially for some players who are not used to it or who are new to the environment.”

“I always feel they have a responsibility. I know they have to be honest and give their opinion, but they also have a responsibility as a former England player who many players looked up to. People are interested in what they say and people listen to them.

“Everyone has their very own opinion but the underside line is that we haven't won anything as a nation for a really, very very long time and a number of these players were involved in that too, in order that they know the way tough it’s.

“It's not about eliminating anyone. It's just the fact that they know it's tough to play in these big tournaments and tough to play for England.”

“I would never disrespect a player. I would just say: remember what it's like to wear that jersey and that his words are listened to. They are heard.

“We all need to win a giant tournament. If we help them as much as we will and provides them confidence, that's a significantly better way.”

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Lineker, 63, scored 48 goals in 80 appearances for England between 1984 and 1992. He won the Golden Boot at the 1986 World Cup and was part of the England team that reached the semi-finals of the 1990 European Championships in Italy.

After England’s draw with Denmark, Lineker told the Rest is football podcast: “I believe we want to reflect the mood of the nation. I can't imagine that anyone who’s English would have enjoyed that performance since it was lethargic, it was grim. You can think up all kinds of words and swear words if you happen to want, but it surely was shit.”

Kane scored his first goal of the European Championship against Denmark, but admitted that he had been out of form personally in the first two games.

“I attempt to steer clear of it (watching and reading media criticism) as much as possible,” he added. “I believe it's almost unattainable lately with all the several platforms to not see some things.”

“As a player, everyone has the correct to their very own opinion and I do know that in big tournaments all the pieces gets more exciting and performance is scrutinised. If I'm honest with myself… did I do my best? No.

“But I didn't score a goal in the group stage of the World Cup or the group stage of the European Championship. So from my point of view, being one goal ahead is a bonus. I always judge myself first and I know I can play better and I know a lot of players in the team think that too – that we can all play a little bit better. That's what I do. I don't panic. I don't get too elated or too depressed. I keep doing what I'm doing and just move on to the next game.”

Kane expects England to do higher at Euro 2024 (Stefan Matzke – sampics/Corbis via Getty Images)

Kane was substituted within the second half of England's draw with Denmark after missing the tip of Germany's season with a back injury.

Although there have been concerns concerning the 30-year-old's fitness, he stressed that he felt fresh and had no injury worries.

“I think the preparation for the tournament was good for me personally,” said Kane. “Even in the matches of the tournament, in the first game, I felt as fit as I have all season. Of course I know that I was substituted in the second game, but that was because the coach wanted to see something different, maybe especially to freshen up the strikers.”

“In my opinion, I am fit and I am getting better and fitter with every game. I have said the same thing in previous tournaments, that you have to try to be at your best when the most important part of the tournament comes, the knockout round.

“As at all times, time will tell. If we’re eliminated, there might be a number of questions, but from my standpoint, I believe that going into that knockout round, you’re feeling 100% comfortable (that's necessary) and I believe I'm there.”

Gareth Southgate's side are preparing for their final Group C game against Slovenia on Tuesday, currently leading the table with four points.

After the draw with Denmark, Southgate said England were not physically at the “right” side to apply pressure high up the pitch.

Kane said England's pressing problems stemmed from playing against a back three against Serbia and Denmark. Slovenia played with a back four in their first two group matches and the England captain said he hoped his side could be more forceful.

“I believe each games against the three-man defense left us a bit confused on the pitch,” he said. “We had prepared before the sport. But then there have been just certain things where we couldn't quite construct up the pressure that we desired to and we weren't 100% sure when to go and that's difficult.”

“I don't think we were good with the ball, which made it feel like we were just running and continuously running. So it was difficult to reverse that momentum. I believe in the subsequent game it’ll be a special threat due to lineup… it’ll probably be different than in Slovenia. Hopefully we will show a bit more energy and enthusiasm, especially without the ball, and I believe that may help us with the ball as well.”

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What we learned from Kane's expressive performance

Harry Kane entered the English media room at Blankenhain Castle, won a darts match, sat down, answered questions, took a sip of water and then left the room.

But the part in between, in which the English captain spent 40 minutes clarifying things from the camp's point of view, was unusually revealing.

It was decided on Sunday morning that Kane would be the player to speak at the public press conference. This is part of a wider strategy by the Football Association regarding which voices are heard and at what time, and Kane is more than happy to take on that responsibility.

analyzed what he said and what it meant

England's critics

“The bottom line is that we haven't won anything as a nation for a really, very very long time and a number of these players have been involved in that. They know the way tough it’s,” Kane said in reference to Lineker's dig.

Lineker was not the only pundit to criticise England's performance against Denmark, but as the face of Britain's national broadcaster's football coverage, his words carry more weight than most.

Although Kane remained respectful and raised several reservations, he clearly wanted to stand up for the team after the negative reaction to them.

His own fitness

“I felt fitter than I actually have all season. I do know I used to be substituted within the second game, but that was since the coach desired to see something different and clean up the strikers. It's necessary to enter this knockout round feeling 100% and I believe I'm there.”

Kane was quick to dismiss the notion that he was not fully fit, having missed Bayern Munich's final game of the season due to a back injury.

He looked underwhelmed in England's first two games at Euro 2024, but tried to reassure his fans by telling them not to worry about his fitness.

Kane was withdrawn against Denmark (Ralf Ibing – firo sportphoto/Getty Images)

Tactical problems within the opening games

“I just think playing against the back three in both games caused us a little bit of confusion on the pitch. We had prepared before the game. But then there were just certain things where we couldn't quite build the pressure that we wanted to and we weren't 100 percent sure when to go and that's difficult.”

After the Denmark game, Kane said the players didn't know when to use pressure. It was a devastating revelation. And now he has provided that assessment a bit more context, mentioning that playing against a back three disrupted attacking triggers. Playing against Slovenia's likely back 4 should alleviate that problem.

keep Calm and carry on

“I think we are calm. Many of us have been here and done it and we have given the English fans some fantastic moments. I know that 99 percent (of the fans) are fully behind us. You can judge us after the tournament.”

The word “calm” was utilized by Kane 3 times during his press conferences and in as many answers.

The message from England's training camp after the Denmark game is that the team remain relaxed – or at the very least attempt to – despite the dismal performances. Kane reiterated that message on Sunday, urging fans to order their final judgement until the tip of the Three Lions tournament.

image credit : www.nytimes.com