Captain’s goal-scoring exploits join Belguim, Mexico and Germany as top World Cup stories with knockout round looming
One of the great pleasures of diving deeply into the World Cup, without any previous knowledge of its great players and teams, is discovering who they are and developing an immediate man-crush.
On top of that list is England’s captain, Harry Kane, an alpha athlete with steely blue eyes and an apparent knack of producing profoundly during the most important moments of the most important tournament in the world.
Kane, just 24, became just the second player in England’s history to score in his first two World Cup matches, and we’re talking about a program that has fielded icons such as David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole in just the last 15 years.
Kane, who plays for Tottenham in the English Premier League, currently leads all scorers with five goals heading into this week’s action. He was in the midst of it all last weekend during England’s 6-1 rout of Panama, a match England led 5-0 after the first half.
Kane became just the third Englishman to score a World Cup hat trick, joining Roger Hunt (1966) and Gary Lineker (1986). And each of his shots on goal thus far have resulted in a score, which makes him even cooler than Alex Ovechkin.
Kane also scored five goals in six matches during England’s qualifying run.
“Obviously, it’s been going well so far,” Kane told the media after the match. “But there is still a long way to go.”
A quick fact: England has scored more than eight goals at a World Cup once, (1966) and they’re got that already after two matches. Thank you Captain Kane!
If you are wondering, he seems like a very interesting chap. He and his fiancé, Katie Goodland, care for two Labradors named Brady and Wilson, named after the NFL quarterbacks. She is currently pregnant with their second child.
Kane does not drink alcohol during the season or go to nightclubs. Last year, he hired a full-time chef to help him control his diet. He certainly can afford it. Kane’s latest contract will net him around $120 million by 2024.
According to The Telegraph, the prominent English newspaper, Kane’s salary of 200,000 pounds a week is 10th among Premier League stars. Alex Sanchez of Manchester United is first at 500,000 a week.
Next for England is Thursday’s Group G matchup with unbeaten Belgium, a side – that’s World Cup for team – that features a pair of its own stars in Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard.
We love these guys, too.
With 30 minutes still to play in Saturday’s second-round match against Tunisia, both Lukaku and Hazard had already scored twice during a 5-2 win.
Belgium, which has never won a World Cup championship, had opened play with a convincing 3-0 win over Panama.
As for the most compelling match of group play, that certainly was Germany’s 2-1 win over Sweden on Saturday, a match the defending World Cup champions needed to win to avoid what would have been a catastrophic elimination during Group F play. The Germans had lost 1-0 to Mexico in their first game.
Toni Kroos’ goal, scored five minutes into extra time added to the end of the match, brought the Germans back from a 1-0 first-half deficit while playing a man down after the ejection of Jerome Boateng with a red card in the second half.
Meanwhile, the Mexicans, after opening the tournament with the win over Germany, survived noteworthy South Korea 2-1.
By the way, if you think American sports fans and the media can be overly critical of their managers and fans, you should get a translator to help you matriculate your way through a column or broadcast authored recently about Mexican manager Juan Carlos Osorio.
The call for a Mexican hat dance, with Osorio’s head still in it, was loud and clear.
“I think this will be a very beautiful memory in the future,” Osorio told the New York Times through an interpreter. “But remember, football is subjective. There are many differing opinions inherent to the sport, constant changes, and many analyses only have to do with the final score. So I think the most appropriate action is to keep working. We cannot simply get carried away with our victory.”
But we can get carried away by our new favorite professional athlete and side. Raise a pint, go England!