World Cup winner Sir Geoff Hurst believes Harry Kane is the man to replace Wayne Rooney as England’s number one striker as he enters the peak years of his career.
However, Hurst – the only man to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final – does not believe Kane will manage to break Rooney’s record of 53 goals for the national team.
Tottenham forward Kane scored twice in the dour 4-0 win over Malta to take his tally to 10 in 20 appearances and Hurst, scorer of 24 international goals himself, thinks he will be England’s main man for the next half-dozen years.
“There is a period in everybody’s career where for six or seven years you are at your best, you are young enough to run through a brick wall and know how to play the game and score goals,” said Hurst, speaking at a McDonald’s and FA Community Football Day in Bookham.
“He’s had a couple of years scoring the goals for Spurs and England and you would assume, all things being equal, Harry Kane will be around the way he is performing now for the next six-odd years at the very least.”
Asked whether he thought Kane could beat Rooney’s record, Hurst said: “No. It is phenomenal what he achieved, to beat the record (of Sir Bobby Charlton), and his record stands for itself in terms of games and goals.”
Rooney announced his international retirement 10 days ago despite Gareth Southgate wanting to recall the 31-year-old.
Hurst, a World Cup winner in 1966, backed the former captain’s decision.
“I fully agree with him wanting to retire,” he said.
“In our time when the money wasn’t as good you wanted to hang on for England as long as you possibly could, as while you were playing for England it made it financially worthwhile.
“Today players are not in that position, so players can decide for themselves.
“I fully support the decision he has made. I said it was the right thing for him to go and not to be picked by Southgate earlier and the decision he has taken to retire is fantastic.”
Rooney’s departure has left Southgate with a squad of young, relatively inexperienced players but Hurst sees no reason why they cannot forge a new era – especially after the success of England’s youth teams this summer with the under-20s winning the World Cup and under-19s the European Championship.
However, he admits the players and Southgate need some time to develop.
“You have to put things in perspective. It does take time. Alf Ramsey’s first game in 1963 we lost 5-2 to the French,” he said.
“You can’t just flick a switch and expect instant success and magnificent results overnight, it takes time, as it did in our time.
“Alf took over in 1963 and we won it three years later, but there wasn’t that expectation we were going to win it in ’66.
“In terms of a manager taking over a team, at most levels it takes more than nine games for him to get his ideas over.
“The main aim is qualification and we are well on the road to that. It all comes down to performing at the tournament itself – that is when you look to make judgements.
“There is a changing of the guard and some of the older players have gone but it is an exciting bunch of talented, young players.
“You hope when a tournament comes around they have a bit more experience and they can start to use that experience and get some results because we do need it.
“The expectation is high but that is the nature of England football.”