Harry Kane has a similar influence on England as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo do for their respective countries, says Jamie Redknapp.
Argentina forward Messi and Portugal’s Ronaldo endured miserable World Cup exits on Saturday, but both will still be regarded as the inspiration behind their teams.
With Kane set to be recalled for England’s last-16 clash with Colombia on Tuesday, Redknapp lavished praise on the Tottenham striker.
Speaking to Sky Sports after filming A League of Your Own, Redknapp said: “He is our Messi, our Ronaldo. He is the talisman, the person we will be looking at to score and to make that difference.
“He is leading by example. He is the player that everyone is talking about – wherever you go at the moment, people from all around the world.
“He has gone to another level and elevated his game. Not only that but as a person and everyone thinks he is one of the best players in the world now – he is in the top five and things can only get better.”
Southgate has been criticised in some quarters for resting players – including Kane – in the final Group G defeat against Belgium.
Redknapp, though, has nothing but compliments for the calmness the England boss has brought to the camp.
“They have played with no fear and I always think that has been a major problem with England in the World Cups and European Championships the last three or four campaigns,” he added.
“You can see the players have been transfixed by fear, it has almost taken over them, and that has sometimes come from the top.
“When you go into the games, how you portray the team – if you are so worried about the press – that is only going to transmit to the players.
“Gareth has said ‘we are going to embrace this, enjoy it, play’ and hopefully they carry on doing this because at the moment, and I think I speak for everybody when I say this, the whole country has fallen in love with England again.
“We have an unbelievable opportunity to do something very special. I look at that squad and I get really jealous and think I would love to be in that squad.
“It looks like it is great fun, they are all playing for each other, with freedom and that is the greatest compliment I could give them. That is what Gareth Southgate has created so far.”