Tottenham striker Harry Kane takes cue from Wayne Rooney the role model

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Just before Wayne Rooney gave his dressing room speech having scored his 50th goal on Tuesday, his England team-mates roared him on with a chorus of “Rooney, Rooney”, the chant that had echoed round Wembley as they left the pitch.

To many of these youngsters, playing the role of fans was perfectly natural. Rooney, once the baby of the England team, is now the oldest member, the captain and the history-maker as well as everything else. Many of these players – including strike partner Harry Kane – watched his thrilling Euro 2004 emergence on television as children, and are now playing alongside him for the senior team.

Rooney admitted that he was “a bit overwhelmed” by the moment but his team-mates were touched too. Chris Smalling revealed afterwards that he will be keeping his shirt from Tuesday night, because of Rooney’s history moment, and Kane, whose second-half arrival turned the game, was just as pleased to be part of it.

 

“I grew up watching him,” said Kane, who remembers Rooney’s displays against Croatia and Switzerland in Portugal when he was just 11 years old. “To be at Wembley seeing him break the record, it is special for him and special for all of us to see.”

Kane may tower over Rooney but he is very much under his captain’s wing, and has been benefiting from his advice over the international break. “He is a great role model,” Kane enthused. “To be with him this week has been great for me. He has been there and done it for club and country for so many years and he has gained a lot of experience. I can only learn from players like that.”

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Kane celebrates after scoring the opener against Switzerland

 

Rooney encouraged Kane – as well as Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling – to push for his England goal record, and he was positive about the Spurs striker overcoming his slow start to the club season.

“I’m delighted for him,” Rooney said. “The two goals will certainly help him. You have to understand that he’s only a young lad – he’s only played one season in the Premier League and this will help him mentally. You’ll have to be patient. You can see in training he is a quality player.”

Rooney knows what it is like to be young and under pressure – he was starting his fourth season at Manchester United, in which he won the Champions League, when he was the age Kane is now – and backed Kane to deal with it.

“He is a goalscorer, if he keeps doing the simple things and doing what he does he’ll score goals,” Rooney said. “I always remember when I was younger when you go through stages of not scoring in your career and I always tried to do too much. The thing to do is to keep it simple, keep doing the things you know and the chances will come and so will the goals. I was delighted, as you could see, when he scored.

“He has the character to handle it. He is level-headed. Nowadays the young lads are made differently. It doesn’t seem to faze them that much. He has the right people around him and he will be a really good player for years to come.”

There is little prospect of Kane taking Rooney’s place, although selection decisions may become more interesting if Daniel Sturridge – highly rated by the England camp – gets fit and starts scoring. For Rooney, even now, the competition is still driving him on.

“I understand there are a lot of young lads in this team and I don’t want to give my place up,” he said. “I train every day as if my place is on the line and I have always done that throughout my career . When you get older and have played a lot of games you become more aware of that.”

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