Antonio Conte has backed Harry Kane to put his World Cup disappointment behind him and suggested opposition fans should show appreciation for the England striker instead of abusing him, as was the case during Tottenham’s 2-2 draw with Brentford on Monday.
In his first appearance since missing a penalty against France that ultimately cost England the chance to progress in Qatar, Kane found himself on the receiving end of taunts from home supporters at the Gtech Community Stadium, with some suggesting he had let his country down. Kane responded in typical fashion – scoring with a 65th-minute header that sparked a comeback from Spurs after they had found themselves 2-0 down against Thomas Frank’s side.
“I have zero doubt about his quality, about his mentality, about the way he approached every game and every training session,” Conte said of the striker. “He’s facing a strange situation because he played a really good World Cup. I think that also because he played a good World Cup and the team played the quarter-final, then he missed this penalty.
“It was a decisive penalty for England. But you know very well, football is this. You can have positive or negative moments. If you are strong mentally, if you are a top player, if you are a player of a big, big level, then there is a moment you have to put to one side a negative situation and move on. I think Harry did this.
“I repeat we are talking about a really, really good player and especially a good person. For this reason, our fans and also the fans of the other teams should clap him.”
Kane’s header was followed by an assured finish by Pierre-Emile Højbjerg on 71 minutes, cancelling out goals either side of half-time from Vitaly Janelt and Ivan Toney. It was the ninth consecutive match in which Spurs had conceded first and Conte admitted having mixed feelings about the result.
“I have to be happy for the reaction, for the way we played in the second half of the game, but not only the way we scored two goals, but the energy, the desire, the intensity that we played,” he said. “When you play in this way for sure you create a lot of problems for your opponent.
“In the other side, this is nine games in a row that we conceded the first goal. This is not positive because, understand we have great character, understand that we have a great reaction, understand that we believe in ourselves but at the same time it’s important to be stable for a team that wants to try to stay in a good position in the table.”