England’s Euro 2020 qualifying win over Bulgaria was marred by racism, but Mauricio Pochettino was impressed by Harry Kane’s actions.
Mauricio Pochettino hailed stand-in Tottenham captain Harry Kane as a “natural leader” as he reflected on the England skipper’s response to the racism row in Bulgaria.
Kane will take the Spurs armband in the absence of injured goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in the coming months, while he is also England’s captain.
The striker’s role with the Three Lions put him at the forefront of the controversial Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia on Monday, which was twice stopped due to racist abuse from the crowd.
Kane stood by his team-mates as they followed UEFA’s protocol and ultimately saw out a 6-0 win, later describing his pride at the way England players had acted in testing circumstances.
Pochettino, discussing Kane’s more prominent Tottenham role on Thursday, said: “He’s become a natural leader. He’s great.
“His commitment, not only for Tottenham but the national team, is fantastic for England and Tottenham. We will miss Hugo for a few months and to have Harry to step up is important, like others who are important and mature.
“They will step up and handle problems when they happen like this. It’s good to see how he behaved and of course he showed great maturity.”
Great performance and I’m proud of the togetherness we showed in some disgraceful circumstances. Racism has no place in society or football. It needs stamping out for good. Also a massive congrats to @OfficialTM_3 on a great debut #ThreeLions pic.twitter.com/yS9pEFeXie
— Harry Kane (@HKane) October 14, 2019
Asked specifically about the Bulgaria match, the Spurs boss added: “I’m going to respect players always. The way Harry behaved was top.
“The way he handled the situation on Monday was exemplary. He showed calm, followed the rules. We’re so proud of how he behaved.
“But of course, when you’re on the touchline, you need to understand the players always have rights and it’s difficult to be in their position, know how they feel when they suffer abuse like this. That’s why I will always support my players.
“Harry handled everything perfectly, I want to congratulate him. He was calm, the situation was always under control. He showed great maturity in these situations which are not always easy to manage.”
As well as missing Lloris, Tottenham are waiting for news on star midfielder Christian Eriksen, who suffered a dead leg on international duty with Denmark.