Harry Kane has urged England to ‘be free’ against Germany and to ‘learn’ from the nation’s embarrassing exit to Iceland at Euro 2016.
England face Germany in a huge last-16 clash at Wembley this evening, with several members of a youthful squad featuring in a fixture of this magnitude for the first time.
The Three Lions are bidding to end a poor record in knockout fixtures at the European Championship having won just one previously, whilst England will also be seeking a first competitive victory against Germany for more than two decades.
Kane has now issued a message for his side and has urged England to rise to the occasion, encouraging his teammates to play with freedom ahead of a huge fixture at the national stadium.
“The messaging will be what it’s been all week: be free, enjoy it,” Kane said at a press conference. “We all want to win, that will naturally come out in our performance.
“We’ve had experience at international and club level now so we’ve just got to go out there and enjoy it and make the most of it.”
England have enjoyed ideal preparation for this fixture with their last game coming against the Czech Republic a week ago and Kane says the players are ready and excited to take to the field.
“We’ve had a long time to prepare for this game,” Kane said. “It almost feels like the talking’s done, now we just really want to get out there and be excited for it.”
Kane discussed the size of the challenge facing England with Germany having reached at least the semi-finals in six of the past seven major tournaments, whilst the Three Lions have not beaten their old rivals in a knockout fixture since the 1966 World Cup final.
Joachim Low’s side didn’t entirely convince during their group stage campaign, but Kane has warned that this Germany side are a team steeped in both quality and major tournament experience.
“Germany have been hugely successful in international football,” he said. “When you look at their history and the trophies they’ve won they’ve had a huge impact.
“I feel like their squad is very strong. I know people have been talking about it maybe not being as strong as it was in the past but when I look at their individuals and the players and experience they’ve got I would definitely say it’s one of their best teams.
“We know we have a tough game on our hands and a tough challenge. German teams seem to go far in a lot of tournaments. We need to try to break that mould from our point of view. Our history isn’t as good. I think we’ve only won one knockout game in 50 years or so in this competition [against Spain penalties at Euro 96]. It’s a challenge for us as players to write our own history and put a marker down, hopefully for the rest of the tournament.”
Kane formed part of the England side that were eliminated from Euro 2016 in embarrassing fashion to Iceland, as Roy Hodgson’s team crashed out to the tournament debutants despite being strong favourites.
The England captain admits that loss was one of the toughest experiences of his career and is hopeful the Three Lions can learn from past mistakes as they bid to beat Germany and reach the quarter-finals.
“It was one of the toughest losses I’ve had so far in my career,” he said. “We had high expectations of ourselves and the country had high expectations of us and we fell short on that night which was hard to take. But I’ve always said you definitely learn from experiences like that, you learn from the losses you have in your career. But the bottom line is we have to go out and show that on Tuesday night.
“That’s down to us as players to take that responsibility on. There will be times where we go through difficult spells. Germany might be on top for a spell and it is about us looking around the pitch as individuals and taking responsibility to turn momentum around. This [is] the difference between winning and losing big games.”