Harry Kane yesterday became the proud owner of the World Cup Golden Boot, but he is already setting his sights on Tottenham’s Premier League opener at St James’ Park and ending his final unwanted jinx.
England left Russia empty-handed after losing their third-place play-off against Belgium 2-0 on Saturday, but their captain’s six-goal haul saw him crowned as the tournament’s top marksman.
He achieved the feat despite drawing a blank in each of his last three matches and looked in need of some hard-earned rest and relaxation after a fruitless shift in St Petersburg.
An extended break does not appear to on the agenda, though, with the 24-year-old already eyeing Spurs’ curtain-raiser against Newcastle in less than a month.
Kane has famously never managed a Premier League goal in August, but, having ended any doubts over his suitability for tournament football over the last month, he wants to put that right as soon as possible.
“I’ll hopefully be back for the first game and hopefully I can try and score in August this year,” he said with a smile.
“Not many people get to say they’ve won a golden boot in a World Cup, it’s a big achievement.
“I said before coming into the tournament I wanted to prove I could do it in these big tournaments.
“The Euros (in 2016) was disappointing for me and if anything I wanted to prove to myself I could score at this level. I’ve scored at every other level and it was important I did that. I’m extremely proud.
“I’m sure I’ll look back in a few weeks’ time and take all these experiences in.”
There will be time to take stock and reflect on his own performances. Despite his impressive tally Kane was unusually muted in open play over the course of the competition.
Typically a prolific shooter he was largely reliant on corner routines and a hat-trick of penalties here.
“You’re playing the best teams in the world at the end of the day, you’re not going to get five or 10 chances a game. You have to take what you’re given,” he explained.
“I’ve had a couple that I feel I could have done better with, especially in the semi-final, but that’s part of being a striker: you’re going to miss some and you’re going to score some.
“Set-plays are a big part of the game so if I score every goal from a set-play I’m not too bothered.”
Kane denied feeling drained, despite signing off with a lethargic performance, but accepted some down time would help clear his mind after a hectic time in the limelight.
“We’ll have to talk to the gaffer at Spurs, but it will be a couple of weeks (away),” he said.
“Physically your body will always take you where you’d never think it would. The important thing is mentally. It will be difficult, but something we have to deal with.
“We train all year round, we’re young, we’re fit, your body gets on with it.
“For me personally, and I know for the other lads, it’s just getting away from football really. It’s hard, but it’s what we have to do with the season starting so quickly.”
Kane already has a place in mind for his latest goalscoring gong – right beside the ones he won in 2016 and 2017 for leading the way in England.
“It will go with the other two, the Premier League ones, I’m sure they’ll send it over in a nice secure package,” he said.
John Stones, meanwhile, returned having gone from spare part to World Cup mainstay since Euro 2016, but the Manchester City man has promised to be his own harshest critic in an attempt to compete with the best on the planet.
Having been an unused squad member under Roy Hodgson in France two years ago, Stones was the only outfield player to start all seven matches for manager Gareth Southgate’s side this summer.
That tells its own story about the growing status the 24-year-old enjoys in a team who comfortably over-delivered with their fourth-place finish in Russia.
He exits the tournament looking every inch a player Southgate can build around for years to come, a refreshing change from his previous
“For me to play seven games and reach the semi-final is a great record, which I’m proud of,” he said as the Three Lions prepared to go their separate ways and claim a well-earned break.
“I wanted to play in every game because it was a difficult tournament in France two years ago. I know how it felt not to play a game. It’s a very different scenario. I feel I’ve improved as a person and a footballer over the last few weeks on the biggest stage in the world.”