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How might the England captaincy affect Harry Kane’s goalscoring?

Kane has five goals in four games as skipper.

Harry Kane celebrates a goal as England captain
Harry Kane celebrates a goal as England captain

Harry Kane will captain England at this summer’s World Cup – but what might it mean for the Tottenham striker’s goalscoring rate?

Kane has started an international match in the armband on four previous occasions – against Scotland, Slovenia and Lithuania in the qualifying campaign for Russia as well as in last June’s friendly against France.

He has scored in all four of those games with a brace against France giving him five goals, or 1.25 per game – significantly up from his England career average of 0.52 per game, 12 in 23.

Kane’s lack of captaincy experience limits how informative that comparison can be – but a look at recent England strikers with more time in the armband suggest he will be able to maintain his improvement.

Effect of England captaincy on a player's goalscoring record

The most recent example, Wayne Rooney, scored 53 goals in 119 England caps but 14 in 22 as skipper – a 43 per cent improvement from 0.45 per game to 0.64.

Alan Shearer hit 20 in 34 as captain, 0.59 per game and almost 25 per cent better than a career-long 0.48 goals per game ratio (30 in 63 caps).

Gary Lineker’s 10 goals in 18 games as captain represented a very slight dip from his overall record of 48 in 80, but just one more goal as captain would have kept the two ratios exactly in line.

Michael Owen only occasionally wore the armband but managed six goals in eight such games, while the pattern largely holds true for goalscoring midfielders as well.

David Beckham scored 16 of his 17 England goals as captain

David Beckham was captain for barely half of his caps, 59 out of 115, but scored 16 of his 17 international goals in those games.

David Platt scored more goals in 19 games as captain than in his other 43 while 20 of Bryan Robson’s 26 England goals came while he was the skipper.

Frank Lampard’s scoring rate declined slightly but he captained his country only eight times out of 106 caps, leaving Steven Gerrard as the only recent example showing a significant drop-off. The Liverpool man scored only five times in 38 games as skipper, compared to 21 in 114 overall.

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