Ian Baraclough believes Harry Kane’s journey in becoming an England superstar is an inspiration to all young footballers.
The Northern Ireland boss says that what Kane has achieved from being a loan player in the lower Leagues to leading his country in tonight’s European Championship Final against Italy shows what can be done with dedication, hard work and talent, pointing out that our own Stuart Dallas is in that bracket too.
Kane’s goals have taken England to the decider, three years on from winning the Golden Boot at the World Cup, and with Manchester City and Manchester United keen to sign him from Tottenham Hotspur, a mega summer move could be on the cards for the striker who was loaned out to Leyton Orient, Millwall and Norwich City early in his career. Baraclough also recalls Londoner Kane in a short spell at his hometown club Leicester City before hitting the heights with Spurs and England.
“There’s no bigger name for England than Harry Kane. He had several loan spells out of the top flight including one at Leicester where he only got a few games,” said Baraclough.
“People in Leicester are probably amazed at where he has got to now having looked back at that short loan spell. It shows you what can be done with hard work, talent and application and Kane is an inspiration with all of that.
“England’s squad is full of great stories. Look at Kalvin Phillips and how he has risen through with Leeds. Two years ago, he was a Championship player. Now he is one of the best midfielders in the Euros and an integral part of what England are doing.
“Harry Maguire has played at Sheffield United and Hull before going to Leicester and now he’s at Manchester United. It takes hard work and that dedication to commit to what they want to do and now they are realising their dreams. They could be immortalised in English folklore.
“For Northern Ireland, there is no one better than Stuart Dallas to look at. Where he has worked his way from and where he is now is incredible. He probably couldn’t have imagined 15 years ago that he would be playing in the Premier League and being one of the go-to players for Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds United. For every one of our young players, look at those types of players and dedicate yourself to the game and you will be amazed at where it takes you.”
On tonight’s Final, Baraclough said: “England have been a slow burner, getting better as the tournament has gone on. Gareth (Southgate) has chosen to play in a pragmatic, measured way, not giving much away and making sure they are difficult to beat.
“Italy are built on those two giants at the back, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, with some flair going forward in wide areas and goalscoring midfielders. I’ll not predict who will win but it’ll be a fantastic game to watch.
"With a player of the tournament, it’s difficult to differentiate between different positions.
“There have been certain stand-out players in various positions. For example, I think Italy’s Gianluigi Donnarumma has been the best goalkeeper. Yann Sommer has also been excellent for Switzerland, but Donnarumma has been the stand-out goalkeeper for me.
“Before he got injured, I thought that Leonardo Spinazzola, the Italian left -back, was very impressive in all aspects of the game. I think Italy have missed him since he has been out.
“I have enjoyed Raheem Sterling’s performances for England. He has been under massive scrutiny from the media and England fans alike but he has risen above it and performed superbly well.”