England captain Harry Kane is keen to stop Cristiano Ronaldo running away with the World Cup Golden Boot race.
Kane will lead England out as captain for their first action of the tournament against Tunisia on Monday in Volgograd, having already seen a supreme display of finishing at Russia 2018.
Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo dragged Portugal to a breathless 3-3 draw with Spain on Friday, completing his hat-trick with an immaculately dispatched free-kick to crown an instant classic in Sochi.
Kane has put himself in a similar bracket in terms of weight of goals – he outscored Ronaldo for club and country over the course of 2017 – and is thirsty for a similarly definitive performance on the biggest stage.
“Yeah, he’s put me under a little bit of pressure for sure,” Kane replied when asked about Ronaldo’s stunning exploits at a pre-match news conference.
“He’s a fantastic player and had a fantastic game. But, as always, it’s about concentrating on myself and the team.
“Hopefully I can score a hat-trick and we’ll both be level. But it’s not something I will think about too much until, hopefully, the end of the tournament.”
What’s next?@nikefootball Believe. #JustDoIt pic.twitter.com/4y0vsk7ks3
— Harry Kane (@HKane) June 17, 2018
When England’s World Cup campaign ended at the group stage four years ago, Kane had only just become a first-team fixture at Tottenham following a plethora of loan spells.
It is a measure of the 24-year-old’s rapid and relentless rise that he is now England skipper largely because he is an indisputable selection in Gareth Southgate’s starting XI.
Southgate’s remodelling of the Three Lions’ playing style has owed much to the elite coaching his leading players are exposed to on a daily basis and Kane paid tribute to club boss Mauricio Pochettino for elevating his level.
“Four years ago, I was watching it on holiday. I’d played the last six or seven games of the Premier League season under [ex-Tottenham boss] Tim Sherwood,” Kane recalled.
“Mauricio Pochettino came in that summer and got me fit, got me in better shape – more powerful.
“I kicked on from there with a lot of hard work and determination. There were players there ahead of me.
“For me it was always about working hard on the training pitch and taking the opportunities. The last few years have been amazing – improving and feeling better.
“I’m just excited to be here on the biggest stage. I can’t wait to get out there and show the world what I’ve got.”