World Cup 2018: Why Harry Kane is right to target Golden Boot - Alan Shearer

Alan Shearer

Some people might think it is a bit premature for me to start talking about Harry Kane winning the Golden Boot at this World Cup after he has only played once.

But Harry will have been thinking about being the top scorer at Russia 2018 since before he got on the plane to fly out here, and he is absolutely right to.

I was the same before Euro '96, even though I had not scored an international goal in 12 matches over 21 months before it started.

I was coming off the back of a season during which I had scored 31 Premier League goals, so I was 100% targeting the Golden Boot, and Harry will be too. That is the way a confident striker has to think, especially someone as good as him.

Before Monday, he had not scored a goal at a major international finals, but he has put that right now, and in some style.

What a difference to Euro 2016

I have been saying that this is a huge World Cup for Harry, and a chance to shine on the global stage and show he is one of the best strikers on the planet. He has made one hell of a start.

His two poacher's goals against Tunisia were brilliant finishes from corners, especially the second one which was a lot harder than it looked.

He had to guide his header in, and it was a superb finish under intense pressure in the final minute of a World Cup game.

That was the Harry Kane we know from the past four Premier League seasons, and it was a huge contrast to his opening performance at Euro 2016 against Russia.

As well as failing to score in that game, he looked tired and leggy, and my message to him then was he had to improve dramatically or he would soon lose his place leading England's attack in France.

The way he played against Tunisia could not have been more different, not only down to the way he got his goals because he was brighter and sharper than anyone else in their box, but also because he is no longer taking our corners.

The way he took his chances in Volgograd shows how bizarre a decision that was because, if he was taking them on Monday night, we would not have won that game.

Victory should end talk of Iceland defeat

For Harry to have a decent chance of winning the Golden Boot, England are probably going to have to get to the semi-finals, at least.

We have made an encouraging start, and there were plenty of positives, but I am not going to get carried away.

I thought the quarter-finals were a realistic target before the World Cup started and I have not changed my opinion of how good we are, or how far we can go, on the back of one game against Tunisia.

But it was a good result, and we should not take it for granted - we have only won our opening game at a World Cup on three occasions in the past nine times we have qualified.

I think it was even more important because of the way we went out of the European Championship two years ago.

Until we won a match at these finals, then mention of the Iceland game was never going to be far away. Hopefully Monday's victory will put an end to people talking about what happened there.

Captain Kane leads from the front

The making of England's Kane

As I said straight after the Tunisia game, Harry's performance showed exactly why Gareth Southgate made him England captain.

Harry is not a fist-pumper, and he does not shout or scream, but another part of that role is to be the man you can rely on to produce something special when the team needs it, and Harry did that brilliantly.

It will mean even more to him to make an impact like that because he is captain. It did to me, because I loved the pressure and added responsibility of leading my country.

Some people did not agree with him being made skipper, because he is a striker. It was the same when I got the job.

But that did not affect me, and it is the same with Harry. He has justified Gareth's decision already, not that he had to as far as I am concerned.

No sleep, but lots of confidence

As a striker, Harry will have watched Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann get off the mark in the first few days of the World Cup and would have been desperate to make his impact on the competition too.

He is judged on goals and if he is anything like I was before a big match, he would have been lying awake on the Sunday night thinking, 'I have got to get off to a good start', and to actually do that will have been a huge relief.

He will feel like he has arrived at this World Cup and if you could have written a script for him, as an England striker and captain, then it would not be too different from the way his night turned out.

I don't know if he would have got much sleep after the game, though. I never really managed it after matches because the adrenaline is still pumping through you and, not only that, he will have had his goals to think about.

Panama will be a chance for further goals

It is such a good feeling to have won his country three points at a World Cup - it does not get any better than that - so I am sure he is enjoying it, and he deserves to.

Everything about Harry's performance carried the hallmark of a top-class centre-forward. I have already made it very clear how highly I rate him and the only things I would say to him this time are 'congratulations' and 'keep going'.

He will be full of confidence going into the Panama game in Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday, which is the perfect game for him and for England, as we build up to play Belgium in our final group match.

Panama work hard but they are a pretty limited team and we should have more than enough to beat them. We have seen every team at this tournament now, and they and Saudi Arabia are the worst by some distance.

A win could secure our progress to the last 16 and it is a great opportunity for Harry to get more goals too. I would love him to get another two or three, and then we can see where he goes from there.

Alan Shearer was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan in Moscow.

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