Kane seals England legacy as Rooney's goal record tumbles

By Sports Desk March 23, 2023

It's fair to say Harry Kane was something of a late bloomer on the international stage, at least in comparison to the man he has surpassed as England's all-time leading goalscorer.

While Wayne Rooney was named in Euro 2004's Team of the Tournament at the age of 18, Kane was 22 by the time he first appeared at a major international competition.

Despite Rooney's head start, the prospect of Kane beating his record of 53 England goals has seemed inevitable for some time after the Tottenham striker took on a talismanic role for Gareth Southgate's side. 

Kane could have broken the record at last the 2022 World Cup. He had already scored one penalty in the quarter-final against France and, with England 2-1 down, he stepped up to take another at Al Bayt Stadium.

Yet his effort soared over, England's chances of World Cup success crashing down around their captain.

Fitting, then, that it was from the penalty spot that Kane broke Rooney's record by netting his 54th England goal, as he put the Three Lions 2-0 up ahead Italy in their first match of 2023.

He has now cemented his place in the pantheon of England greats.

With Kane assuming his place as the country's greatest goalscorer, Stats Perform looks at the legacy he has built on the international stage.

Stepping out of Rooney's shadow and repaying Southgate's faith

Kane wasted no time in introducing himself on the international stage.

Having replaced Rooney as a substitute against Lithuania in March 2015, the Tottenham striker needed just 79 seconds to net in a 4-0 win.

Since 1872, Kane is one of just six players to score inside two minutes on his England debut, while that strike made him the first to do so since Gerry Hitchens in 1961.

 

However, after England's dismal Euro 2016 exit at the hands of Iceland, Kane had scored only five goals in 17 international appearances. Retrospectively, it wasn't quite the flying start one may have expected from a future great.

While Kane entered that tournament having won the Premier League's Golden Boot, he was uninspired as Roy Hodgson sought to find space for both Rooney and Daniel Sturridge in an unbalanced team. 

That stunning defeat in Nice, as well as a corruption scandal that later led to the departure of Sam Allardyce after just one game at the helm, made 2016 a year to forget for England.

However, the appointment of Southgate that November, coupled with the new manager's decision to drop a declining Rooney the following March, set the stage for a dramatic improvement from the Three Lions' new talisman.  

All but five of Kane's 54 international goals have been scored under Southgate, the highest tally scored by any England player under a particular manager by some distance – Gary Lineker is second with 35 goals under Bobby Robson.

The man for the big occasion 

The idea that the England shirt can weigh heavily upon those who regularly star at club level has been a common theme for decades.

Of Rooney's 53 international goals, for instance, only one was scored at a World Cup – an ultimately inconsequential effort in 2014's decisive 2-1 loss to Uruguay in Sao Paulo.

The Manchester United great may have hit the net seven times across his six major tournaments, but four came in his remarkable breakout campaign at Euro 2004, and he was continually criticised for failing to carry his club form onto the international stage.

Rooney is not the only England star to suffer that fate. Frank Lampard scored three times at Euro 2004 but did not net at another major tournament. Fellow midfielder Steven Gerrard hit 21 goals for Three Lions, but just three came at tournaments. 

Despite arriving at the 2018 World Cup having plundered 30 goals across the 2017-18 Premier League season – his most prolific campaign in the competition – Kane was seemingly open to the same criticisms, but a Golden Boot-winning tournament changed perceptions.

 

Kane as England's tournament specialist

While defeats to Croatia in the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and Italy in the Euro 2020 final have left Southgate battling accusations of underachievement, England's very presence in some of the biggest international fixtures has owed much to Kane.

Kane's total of six goals in Russia was enough to see off the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Kylian Mbappe for the Golden Boot, and only Cristiano Ronaldo and Patrik Schick (both five) bettered his tally of four strikes as England went agonisingly close to Euro 2020 glory.

Having netted against Senegal and France at Qatar 2022, Kane's tally of 12 goals at major tournaments is an outright England record, beating Lineker's total of 10, which came exclusively at World Cups.

With Kane now having eight World Cup goals to his name and looking likely to participate in at least one more edition, the 29-year-old could also claim Lineker's status as England's top marksman in FIFA's flagship tournament.

Nevertheless, some might accuse him of "stat padding" against weak opponents. After all, Kane has scored more international goals against San Marino (five) than any other nation.

However, he has also often been the scourge of the world's elite, as England's old rivals Germany – the opponents for four of Kane's England goals – will attest. 

 

Cementing Kane's legacy: Does more history await in 2026? 

Brazil great Ronaldo, Miroslav Klose, Mario Kempes, Gerd Muller and Eusebio are among the legends to have claimed the honour of top-scoring at a World Cup. None of them – nor any other player – has done so at two separate tournaments.

Kane ultimately could not repeat his 2018 exploits in Qatar. But in terms of other records and future success, age is – just about – on his side. The Spurs striker will be 33 when the 2026 World Cup rolls around. He will likely have set a daunting target for any future England strikers to chase.

Troubling Klose's all-time record of 16 World Cup goals may be unrealistic but claiming a spot in the top five of that list – and beating Pele's tally of 12 – appears a plausible target. 

While Kane's England legacy may be chiefly judged on whether he can inspire the team to bring football home for the first time since 1966, his international goalscoring feats are worthy of lofty praise regardless.

If Kane wins a major trophy during his England career or not, his contribution on the big stage means he should be remembered as one of his country's best ever.

Related items

  • Man City match-winner Bernardo Silva: FA ‘don’t care’ about players’ wellbeing Man City match-winner Bernardo Silva: FA ‘don’t care’ about players’ wellbeing

    Match-winner Bernardo Silva has accused the Football Association of not caring about the wellbeing of players over the scheduling of Manchester City’s FA Cup semi-final.

    Silva scored the late clincher as a weary-looking City ground out a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday to book a second-successive final appearance.

    Yet – after the game – manager Pep Guardiola hit out at the decision to make City play less than three days after they were taken to a penalty shootout in their draining Champions League quarter-final loss to Real Madrid.

    He contrasted this to the preparation time afforded to Sunday’s semi-finalists Manchester United and Coventry, neither of whom had midweek fixtures, and branded the situation “unacceptable”.

    Those sentiments were echoed by Silva, who felt City had been treated unfairly.

    The Portuguese said: “We didn’t play on a level field because the FA didn’t give us a chance to recover, which in my opinion is not reasonable at all.

    “I’m saying this because we won. If we didn’t win, I wouldn’t say it because I don’t like to find excuses, but I don’t think it’s acceptable we had to play (on Saturday).

    “It’s too much. We played 120 minutes less than three days (prior) and we had to play against a team that didn’t travel because they’re from London.

    “And they had five days waiting for us and thinking about our game. There’s no excuse for the game to not be Sunday. It’s not acceptable. For all of us as a team, that’s how we feel.

    “It looks like they don’t care because we’ve said it many times. It’s not about wanting to be favourites, it’s about health.”

    Silva feels there could be greater consideration given to the impact of European competitions on players when domestic fixtures are scheduled.

    He said: “I wasn’t fine at all. I’ll be honest, I was feeling my left hamstring and my right calf. This is not fair for Man City, for us.

    “I say Man City – maybe other clubs went through it. This is just our personal experience.

    “They have to pay more attention to these details. We represent England in these European competitions and it’s important for England, for this country, for other clubs to qualify for the Champions League, Europa League, Conference League. So they need to pay more attention.”

    The FA has not commented directly but its position on such matters is that the needs of the clubs, local authorities, police and broadcasters all need to be considered and balanced. It schedules all ties collaboratively.

    In this case, the matter is also complicated by Chelsea having a rearranged Premier League game against Arsenal next Tuesday.

  • Tottenham confirm Destiny Udogie’s season is over Tottenham confirm Destiny Udogie’s season is over

    Tottenham have confirmed left-back Destiny Udogie will miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on his left thigh.

    Udogie has flourished in his first campaign in the Premier League and made 30 appearances in all competitions for Spurs.

    The Italian defender has caught the eye with his ventures into midfield under Ange Postecoglou but he revealed on Saturday night his 2023-24 campaign was over.

    Spurs said in a statement on their website: “We can confirm that Destiny Udogie has undergone surgery to his left quadriceps, having sustained an injury in training earlier this week.

    “The defender will continue his rehabilitation with our medical staff and is expected to rejoin the squad during pre-season.”

    News of Udogie’s injury is untimely for a Tottenham team who lost 4-0 at Newcastle last weekend. Spurs lost ground in the battle for Champions League qualification as a result and are currently three points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa.

  • Thomas Frank ‘optimistic’ as Brentford show they can thrive without Ivan Toney Thomas Frank ‘optimistic’ as Brentford show they can thrive without Ivan Toney

    Thomas Frank is excited about Brentford’s attacking potential going into next season after Saturday’s 5-1 thrashing of Luton.

    The Bees ran riot at Kenilworth Road with Yoane Wissa on target twice and Bryan Mbeumo able to pull the strings as the fulcrum of a fluid attack.

    Keane Lewis-Potter also got on the scoresheet along with substitute Kevin Schade, while Mikkel Damsgaard caught the eye in a display all the more impressive given Ivan Toney’s absence.

    With Toney eager to move on this summer, the five-goal spree at Luton was a timely example of Brentford being able to show there will be life after the anticipated departure of their talisman.

    “We were very good offensively,” Frank acknowledged.

    “Wissa getting two goals, a fantastic goal. Keane got a goal, Kevin Schade coming off the bench and got a goal.

    “Bryan probably should have got a goal, but was at least two assists and was involved in all the goals, so very pleased with that.

    “I think it is promising. I was actually going into this season very optimistic.

    “I am always optimistic. Sometimes too optimistic! But I think it is good to have belief in your players.

    “Then we have been so unlucky with injuries. You can see when we get more of our best players back the potential in the team.”

    Saturday’s comprehensive win extended Brentford’s unbeaten run to five matches and Frank has set the target of ending a “tough season” on a high.

    The Bees could be boosted by the return of Toney at Everton next weekend after he was absent at Luton due to his ongoing hip issue.

    Frank revealed: “He was very close. If this was a play-off final, which it wasn’t, then I would have played him, but we need to get him absolutely right and fully fit.

    “I meant what I said before, after Sheffield United, that I thought he would be ready for this game. It was just too short so I strongly believe he is ready for Everton. I really hope that.”

    Meanwhile, Luton boss Rob Edwards admitted there would be no major repercussions following their second consecutive 5-1 loss.

    “I didn’t rant and rave,” Edwards explained.

    “I am not sure it would have had too much of an effect right there and right then. It might be a case on Monday. I’ll see how I feel once I have reviewed things.

    “This week we need to show the things we’ve not done well enough and try to correct some things, but at this stage of the season as well what we can’t do now is lose people or blame people.

    “I can’t become a different person just because we’ve lost a game of football.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.