09 July 2024

Harry Kane believes England have handled criticism ‘really well’ at Euro 2024

09 July 2024

Harry Kane believes England have dealt with the “noise” that surrounds the team at major tournaments as the captain targets another European Championship final.

England face the Netherlands in Dortmund on Wednesday evening aiming to make it to their second final in a row.

After losing on penalties to Italy three years ago at Wembley, Kane will be aiming to see off the Dutch and then lead England to a first major men’s trophy in 58 years in Berlin on Sunday evening.

England have reached the semi-finals despite plenty of criticism over the style of play and manager Gareth Southgate, who had beer cups thrown at him from the stands following a 0-0 draw with Slovenia in the group stage.

Southgate has spoken about the “unusual environment” surrounding his side this summer as expectation increases following recent improvements in tournament football.

Asked how he and Southgate addressed the levels of criticism aimed at the team, Kane replied: “There wasn’t (a specific) meeting – as one of the leaders and as the captain of the team you’re always talking to players, always talking especially to the newer players, they’re always asking you questions about experiences, etc.

“I think we did a pretty good job of preparing all the players before the tournament for what tournament football is like because, of course, you have to go out there on the pitch and perform well and do that side of it.

“But with tournament football, there’s a lot that goes into it, it is a long time away with each other, a lot of preparation, a lot of time in the hotel, there’s a lot of media attention. So it’s about dealing with all that.

“I think over the years since Gareth has been here and since I’ve been captain, we’ve handled that really well and I think this tournament has been no different.

“The expectation has maybe been a little bit different from the start and maybe the noise has been a bit louder but I think we’ve all handled that really well and some players will use it as motivation.

“Some players will block it out and ultimately it’s just down to what we want to achieve and we have a really close togetherness, not just players but staff as well and we’ve all been in the same direction for a while now and that’s all we are thinking about.”

Kane is expected to lead the line against the Netherlands despite seeing his individual performance versus Switzerland in the quarter-finals highlighted as a concern.

The Bayern Munich striker was substituted during extra-time before England secured their semi-final berth with a shoot-out win – although Southgate explained their all-time leading goalscorer was suffering from “cramp” at the time.

Southgate has guided England to three semi-finals in his four tournaments in charge and now has a squad that boasts a wealth of knowledge of performing in knockout football.

The expectation has maybe been a little bit different from the start and maybe the noise has been a bit louder but I think we've all handled that really well and some players will use it as motivation

It is those collective memories, reaching the 2018 World Cup semi-finals as well as losing to Italy in 2021, which Kane believes the squad can call upon at Signal Iduna Park.

“I think you just use the past experiences to help you, we’ve got a lot of players who have experienced big games on an international level and also big games at club level,” he added.

“So you try and use all that experience over the course of your career to prepare you in the best way possible and to control the nerves and control the excitement.

“We prepared for tomorrow like we prepare for any other game and I just think during the game you lean on experiences, you lean on the leaders in the team who have been there and done that to maybe help some of the players who haven’t, but ultimately it’s about going out there and taking the opportunity with both hands.

“We’ve got ourselves in a great spot and we’ve got a big game tomorrow to reach back-to-back finals in the European Championship and that would be an amazing achievement and we have the opportunity to go and do that.”

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