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Chiellini: I knew Kane would go on to become a star

 

By Tom Allnutt

Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini insists his thundering challenge welcoming Harry Kane to international football in 2015 was not deliberate but admits he knew even then he was up against a future star.

Kane was only two minutes into his full England debut during a friendly with Italy three years ago when Chiellini made his introduction by crashing into his opposite number.

The pair will resume rivalries again at the Allianz Stadium tonight as Spurs take on two-time European champions Juventus in the Champions League last 16.

Since that first meeting, Chiellini has established himself as one of the most dependable centre-halves in Europe while there is not one out-and-out striker more feared right now than Kane.

Chiellini claims there was nothing planned about his shuddering first impression on the then 24-year-old.

"I don't actually remember it very well but in Turin he was certainly a great striker. I didn't make that tackle on purpose!" Chiellini said with a smile.

"But in my opinion he was already then one of the best strikers. People had already talked about him a lot.

"This type of challenge for us as defenders give us an impetus to play football. These are the matches that we will keep in mind in the future.

"I know I judged him properly before because I considered him a great striker then and he has become a great international striker.

"Stopping one-on-one against Kane, just me alone, is pretty impossible.

"I'm not so presumptuous or arrogant to think I can and it's not a goal I have. I hope the whole of Juventus can stop Tottenham, that is what matters.

"One-to-one clashes are important but the whole team will have to do its best to limit, not only Harry Kane, but they have this 'fab four' (Kane, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Son Heung-min) in the attacking area.

"Tottenham are not just Harry Kane but a whole team."

Kane remembered well his match-up with Chiellini for England. He admitted getting past the 33-year-old and, more importantly, Gianluigi Buffon in goal promises to be one of the toughest tests of his career.

"He's an amazing defender," Kane said. "On my first start for England, in the first five minutes he made a challenge and I had a dead leg for about five minutes.

"It was a good welcome to international football. We know how good their defence is as a whole and obviously their goalkeeper as well.

"It will be a fantastic challenge and I'm looking forward to coming up against him again."

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