It seemed written in the stars. Harry Kane clinically converted his 53rd England goal to tie Wayne Rooney’s national record and equalise against France in their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter-final. Momentum was in the Three Lions’ favour. France, with Kylian Mbappe largely anonymous, were there for the taking. Kane would surely be the man to fire the fatal shot.
He had, after all, been England’s hero on occasions aplenty. Kane was magnificent at Russia 2018, inspiring his country to the semi-finals for the first time in 28 years and finishing with the adidas Golden Ball. He scored four times in three knockout games to fire them into the UEFA EURO 2020 final. And he’d hit 17 goals in 14 World Cup qualifiers (1.2 per game on average), dwarfing the comparative ratios of legends such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi (0.47), Cristiano Ronaldo (0.77) and Robert Lewandowski (0.81).
France, against the run of play, regained the lead at Al Bayt Stadium. Then came Kane’s chance to relieve Rooney of his record. Agonisingly for the 29-year-old and England, he skied a penalty high over Hugo Lloris’s crossbar. Two-one is how it finished. It was a sad end to what has been another impressive major international tournament for the England No10. No player has registered more assists in Qatar than Kane – Bruno Fernandes and Antoine Griezmann also have three – while his two goals both came in the knockout phase. The Walthamstow native also moved on to eight World Cup goals, just two shy of Gary Lineker’s England record.
Can he break it? Few would bet against it. Kane will be only 32 when the 2026 World Cup kicks off. He has never relied on explosive pace or elusive trickery. The likes of Lewandowski and Messi are 34 and 35 respectively. Tonight’s match-winner, Olivier Giroud, is a year older. Kane has publicly revealed his dream of being a placekicker in the NFL when he retires from football. There is something else he wants to achieve on American soil first. Tonight’s disappointment will only fuel his fire to lead England to global glory 60 years on from their first and only crown.