Journalist Alessandro Schiavone has interviewed England legend Chris Waddle ahead of England versus Slovenia at Wembley Stadium on Thursday evening.
Former Tottenham Hotspur winger Chris Waddle says that ‘Harry Kane isn’t world-class yet’
I met England legend Chris Waddle outside the iconic Wembley Stadium three hours before England’s penultimate World Cup qualifier against Slovenia on Thursday night.
Looking as young as ever and as humble as anyone you could imagine despite being earmarked as one of the ‘finest players of his generation’ in the eighties, Waddle was about to make his way to the media entrance when I asked him if he was eager to conduct a short interview.
The now 57-year old immediately nodded but politely insisted that he wouldn’t answer any questions regarding his infamous penalty miss against Germany in the semifinal of the 1990 World Cup, held in my homeland Italy. It was a crucial miss that eventually cost England a spot in that year’s World Cup final against a Diego Armando Maradona-inspired Argentina.
Too much power behind the penalty meant that England never made it to Rome and for years his skied penalty must have relentlessly haunted him, his quick reply to my question being an evident testament to it‘ we can talk about anything but that World Cup’.
Thus, my focus was on England’s current squad, its talismans Harry Kane and Dele Alli and Tottenham’s future chances of keeping hold of the pair.
Over the past 27 years, the world around us has changed, let alone the most popular sport in the world. But there is one thing that has remained the same since Italia ’90: England’s miserable form at major tournaments.
In 1992, 1994 and 2008 the Red Lions came up short of qualifying while in 1996, 1998, 2004, 2006 and 2012, England and penalty heartache became synonymous with football in the same way that Wimbledon and strawberries and cream go hand-in-hand. In 2002 they paid the price for David Seamon’s huge howler against Brazil while in 2000 and 2014 they simply struggled to get going.
So when I asked him if England stood any chance of making amends for their woeful recent World Cup history by finally going all the way in Russia next summer, Waddle had no doubts.
‘Can England win the World Cup ? No, they can’t. I think that one between France, Germany or Spain will win it.’
Should England ruffle any feathers in Russia come next June, manager Gareth Southgate’s hopes rely on Kane.
In the past, many doubts surrounded Tottenham’s prolific goalscorer with pundits and fans condescendlingly likening him to one-season wonders of the past.
Over the past three campaigns however, Kane has cleared this hurdle by rattling the league’s finest defenders and banging in goal after goal, match after match and season after season.
Due to his hard work in training, Kane has turned into a powerful, bustling striker with a bullet header and a shot like thunder. On top of that he can score with either feet and boasts pace, football intelligence and composure.
What makes Kane stand out from other great strikers is his unique ability to find the back of the net when playing badly for ninety minutes.
But despite his imperious form, Waddle believes that Kane is not yet a world-class player.
‘No, I think he is an excellent player but he has go to do it year-in, year-out.
‘This is only his third season, he has done so far so good but a great player does it every year basically for ten years.
‘But at the minute he is on his way to being top, world-class’.
According to reports in Spain, Real Madrid are keeping their tabs on the young Englishman but Waddle feels it’s too early for him to leave his boyhood club.
‘I think it is not gonna hurt him if he stays at Tottenham for another two or three years, until he is 26 or 27.
‘If Tottenham aren’t going to get better than he should be looking to leave but at the minute Tottenham are an improven team.
‘The club is getting bigger, they are getting a new stadium. Why should he leave?’
Kane’s teammate Alli, another jewel in the crown, has been the subject of intense transfer speculation this year after his dramatic rise to the top of world football.
European giants Manchester United, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona have reportedly turned their attentions to the England star in the knowledge they could build a sparkling team around him.
Waddle is adamant that whoever wants him ‘will have to pay a lot of money because he still has a five-year contract’.
The 21-year-old will command a mammoth transfer fee and given that Tottenham might have to go through a time when moving stadium will leave them unable to spend, sacrificing Alli in order to fund the future transfer windows might be an option they will have no choice but to consider.
Featured photograph: Wikipedia