Harry Kane backs Gareth Southgate’s handling of Raheem Sterling incident | Football


Harry Kane has shed light on his role in Raheem Sterling’s exclusion from England’s victory over Montenegro and admitted emotions were running high after the Manchester City forward’s clash with Joe Gomez.

England’s captain said senior players calmed the situation after Sterling’s altercation with Gomez, who is thought to be devastated after being booed by the Wembley crowd on Thursday.

Kane said the squad supported Gareth Southgate’s decision to take strong action against a leading player. He was involved in multiple discussions after the incident and is pleased with how everything was handled before Southgate’s side clinched their place at Euro 2020.

“I was not in the room when it happened,” Kane said. “So after it happened I asked him and a few of the players about what went on. I then spoke to Joe privately about how he was feeling. Emotions had run high just after it happened so I spoke to Raz, and me and a few of the senior players spoke about what we should do.

“Joe and Raz then got together and had a chat and then after that I spoke to Joe again to see how he was feeling. He was feeling better after his chat with Raz. We had a private meeting and I won’t discuss what we said. It is about understanding what went on and why, speaking to both players and trying to control it. I think we all handled it as well as we could have.

“It was a situation obviously none of us wanted to happen. The gaffer spoke to me and a few of the senior players and we made the decision we wanted to make and we did it as a group. Raz missed the game, apologised and him and Joe were fine after that.”

Gomez was left with a mark under his right eye after the incident with Sterling in the canteen at St George’s Park on Monday and a difficult week for the Liverpool defender reached a new low after supporters booed the 22-year-old when he came on as a substitute against Montenegro.

“I find it really confusing why he was booed,” Kane said. “I cannot quite figure it out. But I don’t think any player should be booed. I know how important club football is with City and Liverpool and all clubs. But at international level, we are all England fans and the bottom line is that Joe is a great guy.”

Southgate was pleased Sterling, who is set to start when England play Kosovo in Pristina on Sunday, defended Gomez on Twitter. “I think Raheem’s tweet speaks volumes,” the manager said. “The whole dressing room are together. The narrative, you’d have thought we were a camp in absolute disarray and that just isn’t the case. I think the performance showed that, I think the reaction Raheem has given with that statement shows they’re very close and we’re hugely disappointed for Joe. He doesn’t deserve that in any way, shape or form. No player in an England shirt should be booed.”

Southgate will check on Gomez’s emotional wellbeing. “He’s a young player who’s had a difficult week and my priority is to support him,” the manager said. “But I know all of the lads are going to get around him. I just know that’s happening now and will happen over the next few days.”

Kane called on supporters not to heckle Gomez or Sterling against Kosovo and expressed gratitude to Jordan Henderson for helping him through one of his most challenging weeks as captain.

“In life, in football, as one of the leaders, stuff happens and you have to adapt and control the situation and me and the gaffer and Hendo – who was involved even though he was not there – I think we handled it as well as we could have,” he said.

Gomez’s Liverpool teammate Virgil van Dijk has called for the focus to shift. “It [booing] is disappointing to see but it has been dealt with,” said the defender, talking before the Netherlands’ game in Northern Ireland. “I think everyone should stop talking about it. Everyone needs to move on and leave Joe, especially, alone.”


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