‘They did their country proud’ – Kane hails England tournament debutants after beating Croatia at Euro 2020

The striker reserved special praise for those appearing at the European Championship for the first time in a Three Lions shirt at the weekend

Harry Kane hailed England’s major tournament debutants after their opening Euro 2020 game against Croatia on Sunday, insisting “they did their country proud”.

England gained revenge over the nation that dumped them out of the 2018 World Cup at the semi-final stage thanks to Raheem Sterling’s neat finish in the 57th minute at Wembley.

Kalvin Phillips set up the goal to cap a superb all-round display, while Phil Foden, Mason Mount, Declan Rice and Tyrone Mings also shone after being trusted to represent the Three Lions in the European Championship for the first time.

What’s been said?

Kane paid tribute to all five men when asked to assess Phillips’ all-action display by beIN Sports , as he stated: “He has been brilliant. He has just come off the back of a shoulder injury as well, he has been good in training and working hard to be fit for the first game.

“Obviously he was selected and did a fantastic job and there were a few guys out there playing their first game for England in a major tournament and they did their country proud.”

Kane addresses his role in Croatia win

Kane started through the middle for England against Croatia with Foden and Sterling alongside him as a part of a front three, but he was often seen dropping deeper to get involved in the build-up play instead of making runs in behind.

The forward says his aim was to free up space for the Three Lions’ other attacking players to run beyond the opposition defence – a role he has gotten used to at club level with Tottenham.

“It has always been a part of my game,” he added. “Sometimes when I drop deep it allows space for the wingers or the midfielders to run in behind so it is always about doing my bit for the team, if it means dropping deep, I will drop deep. If it means staying high, I will stay high.

“We have got fantastic players on the ball and fantastic players in behind, you saw that with Raheem’s goal. We had a couple of runners and he got in and finished nicely.

“(It is) a great start, we know we have got a long way to go still but you always want to start with a win. It is a great building block for the rest of the tournament.”

Kane on Southgate’s selection

All the pre-match discussion was dominated by Southgate’s decision to start Sterling and Kieran Trippier in winger and full-back roles on the left-hand side of the pitch, with Jadon Sancho and Ben Chilwell ultimately missing out on a place in the squad.

Jack Grealish was also omitted from the first XI despite his impressive displays in England’s warm-up games, but Kane says the final result justified Southgate’s preferred set-up.

“That is why he is doing his job and the fans are debating – that is part of football,” said the Three Lions captain.

“We have got a great squad and you can understand everyone has got their own opinions on who should play but we had a great team performance and it is important we use the whole squad throughout the tournament, it isn’t going to be the same XI every week.”

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