England v Slovenia: Marginal gains fuel captain Kane's appetite

Harry Kane has opened up about how he eats, shoots and leads ahead of captaining England at Wembley for the first time.

England's Harry Kane during a press conference at Enfield Training Centre, London.

Few players in the world can compete with the free-scoring 24-year-old right now.

Kane plundered 13 goals in eight matches for club and country in September and hopes to kick-off October by firing England to the World Cup.

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Tonight’s date with Slovenia will be the third time he has captained his country during a fairy-tale rise that shows no sign of ending, thanks to a desire to improve that complements his ability.

England's Harry Kane (left) and manager Gareth Southgate during a press conference at Enfield Training Centre, London. (Pictures: Steven Paston/PA Wire)

“Over the last year or so now, I’ve changed a lot off the pitch with the nutrition side of it,” said Tottenham striker Kane, who scored twice at Huddersfield Town in the Premier League last Saturday.

“It kind of clicked in my head that a football career is so short – it goes so quickly, you’ve just got to try and make every day count.

“That’s why I’ve got a chef at home now (to enable me) to eat the right foods, which is big for recovery, doing everything right.

“The amount of games you play, you don’t always get the chance to train every week as hard as you want, so you have to try make the little gains away from football as well and that’s recovery, sleep, eating the right foods and go from there.

England's Harry Kane (left) and manager Gareth Southgate during a press conference at Enfield Training Centre, London. (Pictures: Steven Paston/PA Wire)

“That will help me going into a tournament year because it’ll definitely help my recovery, help my body and hopefully keep me fresh all year.”

That chef, recommended by a friend, has been working with Kane since January – a sort of New Year’s resolution that helps ensure Kane is fuelled properly at the right times every day of the week.

“He told me what he could do and it kind of blew me away a bit about the food side of it because I’d never really looked too much into it,” he said.

“When he explained what the body does and how it can help you recover and things with injuries, like when I had the injuries, he helped a lot with that – with the certain foods I was eating .

“It opened my eyes a bit to that kind of side of it and I’ve found it’s really helped me.”

Recovery is key during the season, which is why Kane keeps away from alcohol – unless Spurs win something, that is – and is careful what he eats.

“Apple crumble,” Kane said of his guilty pleasure. “But my week is planned leading up to games to maximise my full potential.”

Given that focus, it is little surprise to hear Kane would not head abroad to watch a concert like Sergio Aguero – albeit he was keen not to pass judgement on the Manchester City striker.

Little wonder, too, that England manager Gareth Southgate says the striker is “absolutely the kind of role model you want”, with his focus barely ever wavering and pressure bouncing off him.

Kane aspires to be a consistent elite performer like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but his appreciation for players goes for past performers as well as present.

He made a beeline for Sir Bobby Charlton at St George’s Park as England’s training pitch was renamed in his honour on Monday and picked the brain of Alan Shearer the following day.

“It was great – great to hear from him,” said Kane.

“I think the lads were attached to him telling the stories not just about England but about his whole career, what he’d come through, the ups and downs along the way.

“We spoke about penalties, we spoke about a lot of stuff.

“It was just great to have an England legend, coming, giving his experience and what he’s been through.”

While not yet seriously thinking about usurping Shearer as the Premier League’s record goalscorer, he was keen to find out about the former England striker’s movement into punditry. “We just wanted to understand what that takes, what he does, how his mind-set changes,” he said.

“Because I’m sure when he was a player, he probably – like most players when they get criticised – wasn’t too happy. And now he’s the one criticising.

“But all that matters is what goes on in your head and being focused on your own job, no matter what anyone says.”

Southgate, who invited both Charlton and Shearer to address the squad, was pleased the subject of media criticism came up.

“He (Shearer) got a bit of a grilling because of what he’s doing now,” said Southgate.

“I thought that was good. I knew that might happen. I think it’s good for the players to understand the world of the media and the requirements of the media, what you’re expected to do.

“It then helps them understand comments that are made, accept it’s not personal, most of the time.”

Victory will guarantee England’s place at next summer’s World Cup with one game to spare. They end their qualifying campaign in Lithuania on Sunday.

Gareth Southgate: Page 24