England: Kane hits back at Lineker, Shearer over ‘sh*t’ claim as ex-Three Lions ‘didn’t win anything’

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England captain Harry Kane and manager Gareth Southgate during a match
Harry Kane and Gareth Southgate during a match

Bayern Munich striker Harry Kane has hit back at outspoken former England players, urging them to remember what it is like to wear the shirt.

Among the favourites to win this summer’s European Championship, Gareth Southgate’s side are top of Group C on four points heading into Tuesday’s final group match against Slovenia in Cologne.

Despite being all-but through with a game to spare, England’s poor displays in the 1-0 win against Serbia and 1-1 draw with Denmark has seen the team come under severe 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.

“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 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 am 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.”

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But, while Kane wants people to keep things in perspective, the England skipper understands improvements are needed as they look to step up a gear before the last 16.

“I think momentum is the right word,” the Bayern Munich striker said ahead of Tuesday’s match against Slovenia.

“If, before the tournament you would have said we are where we are now, nearly qualified, we would have took it for sure.

“But we can be honest with ourselves that we haven’t played the way we want to play but the good thing is we have still got results without doing that.

“But Tuesday is important for the feeling of the group, we want to finish top and take the momentum into the knockout stages and just all round have a better feeling coming off the pitch and take that into the rest of the tournament.”

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Kane’s opener against Denmark was his first group stage goal since 2018 but he has struggled to make an impact in Germany and was withdrawn in the second half.

“I think it’s almost impossible not to see some stuff nowadays with all the different platforms,” Kane said of criticism.

“Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion and I know when major tournament football is on it’s always going to be heightened, performance is going to be scrutinised.

“If I’m honest with myself, have I played the best that I know I can? No.

“But I didn’t score in the group stage at the World Cup, I didn’t score in the group stage at the Euros, so from my point of view it’s a bonus to be one goal ahead.

“I’d always judge myself first and I know I can play better and I know a lot of players in the team think the same – that we can all play a little bit better.

“That’s what I do. I don’t panic. I don’t get too high or too low. I’ll keep doing what I do and just go onto the next one.”