German newspapers are well versed in heralding world champions so when they bestow that title on Englands captain, it carries a certain weight.
According to Die Zeit it is Harry Kane and not Cristiano Ronaldo who is the “world champion” for monstrous efficiency in front of goal after his match-winning brace in the Three Lions World Cup opener against Tunisia.
“Kanes performance was one of the most astounding ever seen at a World Cup,” was the German broad sheets verdict.
“You only saw him five times — the referees toss, two goals, two fouls on him. He had the fewest touches of the ball of the star line-up, but he shaped the game and its drama like no-one else.”
In Kane, England finally have a forward to make the rest of the World Cup sit up and take note.
Its been a while. In the last three World Cups England have called on eight different strikers across who have, across 1,080 minutes of football, collectively managed to score a grand total of four goals. In his first 90, Kane has got halfway there. Hes already scored more open-play goals at the World Cup than Alan Shearer, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe or Emile Heskey ever managed.
In recent months and weeks Englands new captain has fielded an innumerable number of questions and remarks about the youthful nature of his teammates, the freedom and adventure with which they were anticipated to play, the expectation that lower expectations would result in an improved performance.
Kane became the first England player to score twice in a World Cup match since Gary Lineker in 1990 (Source: Getty)
Yet despite the fresh air feel of Gareth Southgates England squad it wasnt until Kane led them into the midge monsoon of Volgograd that we would get any indication as to whether their output would be any different to those that had come before.
In leading his side to victory, in keeping clear-headed when the fog of pressure intensified, Kane stood as a totem for all that was encouraging from Englands opener.
Players experiencing their first taste of a major international tournament — Harry Maguire, Kieran Trippier, Jordan Pickford and Jesse Lingard — did not look cowed by the weight of the occasion.
In the opening half hour Englands attacking quartet of Kane, Lingard, Raheem Sterling and Dele Alli attacked with the kind of verve, pace and urgency that has been the antithesis of previous England performances. They created more chances in the first half, as judged by the expected goals (xG) metric, than any other team has managed in the tournament so far.
Chances werent always as forthcoming in the second half against a deeper, somehow less ambitious, somehow more cynical Tunisia side. If the first half good, second half not so good narrative felt familiar, Englands response to their predicament was less so. There was no Rickie Lambert, Emile Heskey or Peter Crouch sent forth from the bench to get on the end of a cross swung in from deep. There were no drastic changes made to the formation. There was no desperate Wayne Rooney dropping into midfield. They tired and occasionally looked out of ideas but crucially did not deviate from the game plan.
England continued to probe in the same manner throughout, looking to work between the lines and create good chances from promising areas rather than conjure a moment of magic from thin air. England took a higher proportion of shots from inside the six yard box than any other side at the tournament so far at 22 per cent. Only 22 per cent came from outside the box, in contrast to the unconvincing Argentina, Germany or France who took 56, 54 and 50 per cent of their shots from range.
Thankfully for England, two of those close-range shots came from the boot of Kane. An in-form goalscorer drawing envious glances from around the world leading a youthful England to only their second World Cup win in 12 years.
A different kind of star secured a different kind of result for a different kind of England team. Is this a different kind of World Cup?