Gareth Southgate joked he would have come under pressure from Wayne Rooney’s family if he left Harry Kane on to add to his England tally in the 10-0 thrashing of San Marino.
Kane scored four first-half goals in San Marino on Monday, making him the first England player to achieve that since Ian Wright in 1993 and setting a Three Lions record with 16 goals in a single calendar year.
The Tottenham striker had equalled the previous benchmark of 12 with a hat-trick against Albania last week, with his efforts at Stadio Olimpico di Serravalle making him just the fourth Three Lions player to register trebles in consecutive games.
Kane drew level with Gary Lineker in third on England’s all-time scoring list with 48 goals, just five shy of Rooney’s record, but made way for Reece James in the 63rd minute.
“If we’d have left him another half an hour … we’d have had Wayne Rooney’s family on the phone telling us to get him off,” Southgate joked to ITV.
“He’s a phenomenal goalscorer. He’s obviously not had the opportunity in some of those games where there have been a lot of goals available. We wanted to give him that chance tonight, and he took it really well.”
— England (@England) November 15, 2021
With England having secured qualification for the 2022 World Cup with the win, Kane could surpass Rooney’s record on the biggest stage of them all in Qatar.
Asked for his feelings after drawing level with Lineker, he said: “It’s fantastic again. Every time I wear an England shirt, I am proud, and whenever I can score goals, it is one of the greatest feelings I can have in my career. It’s nice to be among those names, and hopefully we can keep them coming.”
The victory was England’s biggest in a competitive away match and means that in 2021 they have won more games (15), scored more goals (52) and kept more clean sheets (14) than in any other calendar year in their history.
Southgate said: “I’ve got to credit all our players and staff on a really good year. Even in a game like tonight, you can’t do anything about the level of the opposition, but the mentality, the way they played, the way they applied themselves was terrific.”
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