Harry Kane believes winning the Nations League Finals with England would top last year’s run to the World Cup semi-finals.
Kane went home with the Golden Boot at Russia 2018 as Gareth Southgate’s side completed England’s best showing at the tournament since 1990.
The Three Lions have built on that success this season, emerging from a group featuring Spain and their semi-final conquerors Croatia to reach the last stage of UEFA’s inaugural league competition.
June’s four-team play-off will see England take on Netherlands in the semi-finals for the chance to face either Switzerland or hosts Portugal in a Porto final.
Although the initial running of the Nations League lacks the gravitas of a World Cup campaign, Tottenham striker Kane feels lifting a trophy as captain of his country would take some beating.
“Hopefully we can win some silverware. If we win the Nations League I think it’ll top it,” he said.
“To have a chance to win a trophy in an England shirt is not something that happens very often.
“If we go and have a good summer and win that trophy, in my eyes it’s a better year.
“Of course 2018 was fantastic, but the main thing for me is the team and trying to win things and we have a chance this year.”
A 2018 to remember. A few highlights… Welcoming our Vivi into the world, reaching 100 @premierleague goals, being named @england captain, leading out my country at the World Cup, the golden boot, shooting under par and being awarded an MBE. Bring on 2019. Happy New Year. pic.twitter.com/P5vbEOrBev
— Harry Kane (@HKane) December 31, 2018
A relative lack of expectations heading into the World Cup appeared a liberating factor for England, whose run in Russia saw a fanbase re-establish affections with their national side.
Ahead of the opening Euro 2020 qualifiers against Czech Republic and Montenegro this week, Kane insisted performances this season have shown his colleagues are ready to meet renewed levels of enthusiasm for the team.
“I think we handled it really well since the World Cup. We’re the only team that got to the semi-finals of the World Cup to get through the Nations League group and we had one of the hardest groups out of the lot,” he said
“I think that was big for us, to prove to everyone that it wasn’t a one-off and this team was really building for something special in the future.
“Everyone handles expectations differently. All we can do is play the way we have been playing, play with that freedom and I think the players we have allow us to do that.
“We can say it, but we can only prove it on the pitch over these next two camps. Our aim is to win the Nations League and we’re more than capable of doing that if we do our jobs.”
Callum Hudson-Odoi and Declan Rice are the latest uncapped youngsters to come into Southgate’s squad, with Borussia Dortmund teenager Jadon Sancho having made the breakthrough before the turn of the year.
Kane will be 26 by the time a Euro 2020 that concludes at Wembley rolls around and hopes his prime years will be still to come.
“People say between 26 to 29 and 30 is your prime. I feel like nowadays, with sports science and everything, the prime might be a bit later if you keep yourself in good enough shape,” he added.
“I think players like [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi have proven that. I’ve still got a little bit to go because 26 isn’t too old – even if it feels it in this squad!
“I’d like to think, maybe a couple of years after that, I’ll be in my prime.”
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