Captain Harry Kane says England’s bid to end their World Cup drought stretching back over half a century will not be undone by a divided squad.
The 24-year-old striker said there were no cliques within the squad that flies out to Russia later on Tuesday seeking to emulate their 1966 predecessors in lifting the trophy.
Both Rio Ferdinand and Steven Gerrard claimed the reason they and the others who made up the so-called ‘golden generation’ fell short at successive finals was they could not shake off their different club rivalries when they joined up with their England team-mates.
Kane, though, told the English daily newspapers this is not the case with the present group under Gareth Southgate — as many of them have played with each other at Under-21 level.
“It’s not something we’ve had to deal with really — we all get on very well and have come through the ranks together,” said Kane.
“We definitely don’t have that divide in the team any more.
– ‘Lot of attacking flair’ –
Kane also took issue with Ferdinand who told The Times last month his priority had been winning trophies with Manchester United.
“It’s the one competition that everybody dreams of winning. That’s No 1.
“I’d be surprised if the majority of players did not say the World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world.
“I’d love to win everything with Tottenham, but for me personally the World Cup outweighs them all.”
Kane, who says his mum cried when he was handed the captaincy by Southgate, does not expect a repeat of the woeful Euro 2016 campaign which saw them beaten by minnows Iceland in the last 16 and cost then manager Roy Hodgson his job.
“I’m confident it won’t happen (again) — I won’t say 100 per cent because you never know in football — but in this team we wear our heart on our sleeve.
“We’re proud to be here, we will work hard, be energetic. First and foremost we will run around and do that aspect of the game. We have a lot of attacking flair that can do some damage.”
Southgate, who experienced the pitfalls of international football when he missed a penalty in the shootout loss to old foes Germany in the Euro ’96 semi-finals hosted in England, did not wish to heighten expectations which has so often been a crushing burden for the national side.
“We hope we can send people to work the following day having enjoyed our matches, I know what those tournament experiences can be like and we desperately want to bring that,” said Southgate, whose side have warmed up with wins over fellow finalists Nigeria and Costa Rica.
“We know we are not the finished article, in fact we’re a long way from, but I think people see signs of progress and enjoy watching us and the manner in which we try to play.”
Kane and England open their World Cup campaign against Tunisia in Volgograd next Monday, followed by dates with Panama and Belgium.