Harry Kane

HARRY Kane is in  a mind-blowing mood. The England skipper looked broken, already haunted. 

His lips moved and there were words, completely monotone, but it was as if he was not there, it was not him. 

You just cannot describe it in words. It was just so sad because Kane did not deserve this. 

As England trailed France 1-0 in the World Cup quarter-final, he had led the revival, carrying the physical fight to Dayot Upamecano, going close on a couple of occasions, giving his team hope. He scored the equaliser in the second half with a penalty but, at 2-1, it all fell apart for him when he blazed a second spotkick high. It was the 84th minute. 

Poor England.  They just could not recover and exited in the usual blaze of emotions.

The first thing to say is that had Kane scored, England would still have had a lot to do to beat the defending champions, most likely in extra time or on penalties. Nobody knows what would have happened. 


But in the moment, everyone thought they knew. England would have had the momentum at a crucial time. They were already playing well; now they would sweep to a statement victory and a semi-final against Morocco.

Poor Kane. He has been left to carry a heavy burden and it is uncharted territory for him. The 29yearold has experienced setbacks in his career, beginning with the notorious release by Arsenal as an eight-year-old. There were the difficult loans at Norwich and especially Leicester, tough questions about whether he would make the grade at Tottenham.

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Kane tweeted on Sunday that he would not hide from his penalty miss. “It hurts and it’ll take some time to get over it,” he wrote.

Kane had the one-season wonder jibes in 2014-15. He has endured three Cup final defeats (League Cup 2015 and 2021, Champions League 2019); injuries; the failed push to get a move to Manchester City in the summer of last year. But it is very difficult to remember him making an error on the pitch that has so obviously cost his team.


Since the 90th-minute deflected winner for Spurs at Aston Villa in November 2014 that ignited his toplevel career, there has been the sense of his stars aligning, of seasononseason progress, the development of his game.

In the Euro 2020 semi-final against Denmark, he had an extra-time penalty to give England a 2-1 lead and he fluffed it, shooting weakly at Kasper Schmeichel. Yet the goalkeeper made an even bigger mistake.

Schmeichel ought to have caught the ball. At the very least, he should have pushed it away from goal. Instead, he patted it back to Kane, who gobbled up the rebound. It seems strange to criticise a goalkeeper for saving a penalty but Schmeichel had to do more.

All eyes will be on how Kane reacts. 


He is famously singleminded and resilient and there is no doubt he will want to get back on the pitch as soon as possible. At least that will happen in relatively short order – the winter World Cup has this upside for him.

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Spurs’ next game is at Brentford on Boxing Day, which was where Bukayo Saka played in his first competitive fixture for Arsenal after his penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final shootout defeat against Italy. Back then, the Brentford fans applauded him. Saka’s situation had an extra, appalling dimension. He had been racially abused on social media and the crowd wanted to rally round him.

For Kane the outofbody experience has happened. He’s absolutely in a mind-blowing mood. He looked broken, already haunted. 

The longer-term recovery starts here.

* Suresh Nair is an award-winning sports journalist who is also a qualified international coach and international referee instructor.

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