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Is Harry Kane Wayne Rooney's heir apparent?

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Roar Rookie
18th November, 2018

The grumbling aside, Wayne Rooney’s last appearance was a nice occasion which ended in a solid 3-0 win against the US.

So too was England exacting revenge on Croatia with a last-gasp winner at Wembley. There were some promising performances from the likes of Jadon Sancho and Callum Wilson to get England fans excited about the future.

Interestingly though, Rooney remarked after the US game that he believes Kane will beat his goal-scoring record for England, foreshadowing an era culminating in Kane becoming England’s highest ever goal scorer.

It’s an assertive, buoyant claim but is it actually probable?

Here is a brief run-down of the two’s respective international careers. Rooney debuted as a 17-year-old in 2003 and retired at 31 in 2017; the added cap earned against the USA treated as an anomaly for obvious reasons.

Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney during his previous farewell game. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham/File)

All in all, Rooney appeared in six major tournaments, played in 120 internationals and scored 53 goals. I’d call that a stellar career and a satisfying two fingered salute to all his critics.

Eat your heart out Peter Shilton. Sorry I digress, back to Harry Kane.

Kane appeared on the scene against Lithuania in 2015 as a fresh 21-year old and has so far scored 20 goals in 35 games for England. Promising.


It’s a very simple equation. Kane must score 34 more goals to break Rooney’s record. Is this likely?

For the sake of comparison, let me hypothesise that Kane will score all of his future England goals before he is 33.

That’s not an outrageous claim. I’ve now established a timeline of eight years to work with, i.e. can he reach 54 goals within these eight years? Now, Kane will definitely lead the line in Euro 2020 and Qatar 2022.

It’s also likely he will be the main striker come Euro 2024 and play a significant role for England through to the 2026 World Cup. Assuming those two tournaments commence in June, he will be 30 at Euro 2024 and 32 at the World Cup in 2026.

England's Harry Kane celebrates after scoring the opening goal of his team during the World Cup Group F qualifying soccer match between England and Slovenia at Wembley stadium in London, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017. England won 1-0.

England’s Harry Kane celebrates a goal. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Both Olivier Giroud and Mario Mandzukic, the starting strikers in this summer’s World Cup final, were 32 so my prediction is categorically plausible. This gives my forecasts some scope. Here are three potential scenarios where Kane will break the record.

Scenario 1: current pace
To date, Kane has scored 20 goals in four years, at an average of five per year. Directly utilising this average, Kane will have to play for close to seven more years to break Rooney’s record. If the Tottenham man plays this scenario slow and steady, he still bags the required amount of goals within the eight year designated period.

Scenario 2: recent pace
Interestingly though, Kane will be in his prime for at least the next four years. The last two years have been his most fruitful with seven goals 2017 and eight in 2018 versus three and two when he initially broke into the England side.


To be honest, he must have found it hard to score when Hodgson was busy forcing him to take corners.

Let’s say Kane maintains a seven goals a year record, he’ll reach the 54 goal mark within five years when he’s 30 or 31. That fits into his prime years as England’s go to influential forward. I’d bet on that.

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Scenario 3: increased pace
It’s not beyond belief that Kane could accelerate his goal scoring prowess. With an average of 8.5 a year Hazza could pass Rooney in four years exactly. He’d then have ample time to hit 60. Easy.

Clearly I have assumed that Kane won’t be ousted by some young gun forward, suffer a career threatening injury, burn out, or be utilised as a Hodgson inspired former striker-cum-holding midfielder. However, I have also assumed Kane’s England career will be done by 33 and he may prove me wrong.

Essentially, if Kane translates his Premier League scoring consistency to the international arena, scenario two seems the most likely. In any case, I just hope he scores his goals when it actually matters. Watch this space.