England hero Kane: I want to be up there with Ronaldo and Messi
Harry Kane is setting his sights on challenging Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for the title of best player on the planet.
Kane strengthened his status as England's leading light with both goals in Monday's World Cup opener against Tunisia but is hungry for even more.
Prior to the match he lightheartedly targeted a hat-trick to equal Ronaldo's treble against Spain, but it is increasingly clear there is nothing frivolous about his desire to compete with two men who have dominated the sport for a decade.
Nobody else has won the prestigious Balon d'Or in the past 10 years but that is the level Kane is shooting for.
"To be the best player in the world you have to aim high, you can't aim low," he said.
"I want to prove myself at a major tournament, I want to be up there with the best in the world and the only way to do that is to perform on the big stage and in the big moments.
"I had to prove people wrong throughout my career and I love proving to myself that I can do it. Ronaldo is the best in the world, up there with Messi, but the challenge is there to be with them.
"Put no limits on yourself, nobody should. I have been itching to get out there and showcase myself on the big stage."
Nobody is more appreciative of Kane's skills than manager Gareth Southgate, who awarded him the honour of captaining the side in Russia and set him up as a role model for all others to follow.
Yet Southgate shows the same ambitious streak as the Tottenham man, declining to unequivocally label Kane world class.
Invited to do so in the aftermath of his decisive turn in Volgograd, where England were 2-1 winners, Southgate instead indicated his own desire to keep demanding more.
“I’m going to keep challenging him on that because I’m always a little uncertain as to what that title means and what you need to do to really gain it,” Southgate said.
“But Harry’s a player we are privileged to have and I’m delighted to have him as my captain.”
Southgate sees Kane’s belief as a critical part of his make-up and feels he shows the same kind of authority as some of the country’s most accomplished recent internationals.
“I think you see that in the top, top players and I think he’s shown that over a period of time in the league,” Southgate said.
“The best do it, the Gerrards and the Shearers and the Lampards. It’s the psychological strength that separates the really top people from the ones that are the next level down.”
Kane’s relationship with Southgate may be going from strength to strength, but the 24-year-old striker revealed his bond with Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino is hitting new colourful new heights too.
“Poch texted me (before the game) and after as well — he sent a lot of love hearts and said ‘Come on England’,” said Kane.
“He is rooting for me. He is not just my boss, he’s my mate… he’s the manager, but he’s a friend as well.”
Former England striker Peter Crouch, meanwhile, believes Kane is reaching levels close to those of Ronaldo and Messi.
“Give him a chance and nine times out of 10 he’ll score it,” said the Stoke City man.
“In these big games he’s calm and he takes his chances when they come. We have got every chance when he is up front.
“You look at the top players like Ronaldo and Messi, and Kane is not far away from that (in) the way he is scoring goals and consistently pushing the boundaries of getting goals and his performances.
“He scored 30 goals one year and people thought he was a one-season wonder, but he did it again, and again.”