Kane named England’s World Cup captain

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England’s manager Gareth Southgate (R) talks with England’s captain Harry Kane during a training session at St George’s Park in Burton-on-Trent Tuesday. — AFP

LONDON — Tottenham striker Harry Kane will be England’s captain at the World Cup in Russia, the Football Association announced Tuesday.

Manager Gareth Southgate has shared the leadership role around since taking over as manager in 2016 but has now settled on Kane for the tournament, which begins next month.

The 24-year-old, who has scored 12 goals in 23 international appearances, was first handed the armband for the qualifier against Scotland last June and has skippered the side on three further occasions.

Southgate, who announced his decision during a team meeting at England’s training base Monday, said: “Harry has some outstanding personal qualities. He is a meticulous professional and one of the most important things for a captain is that they set the standard every day.

“He has belief and high standards and it is a great message for the team to have a captain who has shown that it is possible to be one of the best in the world over a consistent period of time.”

Southgate and Kane, who burst onto the senior international scene with a goal 79 seconds into his 2015 debut against Lithuania, appeared in a live video posted on England’s Twitter account soon after the official announcement.

“It’s an amazing honor,” said Kane. “Obviously you always dream of playing for England, growing up. To be the captain is that little bit more.

“So excited, obviously excited for the World Cup. I just can’t wait to be there and experience it. To be leading the lads out is going to be special. But for me nothing changes — I’m the same person, the same player, and it’s just about the team. We’ve just got to do what we can and go as far as we can.”

Kane’s Spurs teammate Eric Dier and Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson were seen as the other likeliest candidates for the role.

The standout star in England’s inexperienced squad, Kane will travel to his first World Cup full of confidence after another outstanding season in which he passed the 30-goal mark for club and country for the fourth season in a row.

Kane has netted 45 goals in 52 appearances for Spurs and England in 2017/18, missing out on a third consecutive Premier League Golden Boot title to Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.

Nainggolan ends Belgium career after WC snub

Radja Nainggolan ended his international career Monday after Belgium coach Roberto Martinez left the AS Roma midfielder out of his squad for next month’s World Cup in Russia.

Despite past clashes over discipline, Martinez insisted he took what he knew was an unpopular decision for the good of the team.

“Very reluctantly my international career comes to an end,” the 29-year-old Nainggolan wrote in English on Instagram an hour after Martinez made public a decision which he had broken to the player in person the night before in Rome.

Martinez said his offensive strategy since he took over following the team’s Euro 2016 disappointment no longer offered a role to Nainggolan, despite his huge part in Roma’s charge to the Champions League semifinals this year.

The player himself, who also announced plans to retire last year after Martinez left him out, made clear he saw a clash of personality as an issue.

“I’ve always done everything I could to represent my country. Being yourself can be bothering,” he said.

In his native Dutch, he said; “Unfortunately, being REAL is not enough for SOME PEOPLE”, adding that the decision to quit international soccer gave him “much pain in my heart”.

Morata misses out on Spain World Cup squad

Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata was left out of Spain’s World Cup squad, announced Monday.

Morata paid the price for a disappointing debut season in the Premier League as Spain coach Julen Lopetegui picked Iago Aspas and Rodrigo Moreno up front, along with Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa.

“The decision is always difficult because of the talent of the players we have,” Lopetegui said.

“We have opted for three other players who had different assets and including four players up front was not something we wanted to do.”

Two more Chelsea players also missed out as Marcos Alonso and Cesc Fabregas were not included in the 23-man group.

Morata’s absence was the standout decision, however, even if it was not an entirely surprising one given the 25-year-old’s dramatic dip in form.

After scoring seven goals in his first seven games for Chelsea, a back injury seemed to affect his confidence. Morata has scored only three times in 22 games since the turn of the year. — Agencies


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