Southgate: Kane showed strength to break record after World Cup heartbreak
Gareth Southgate praised Harry Kane's mental strength after he broke England's all-time goal record with the crucial strike in Thursday's 2-1 Euro 2024 qualifier win over Italy.
Captain Kane stroked home his 54th international goal from the penalty spot to move ahead of Wayne Rooney and help England to a Group C win in Naples over the European champions.
The 29-year-old had been level with Rooney after missing a penalty in England's quarterfinal defeat by France at the World Cup in December.
"To break the record in the manner he did given the recent history was an indication of his strength of character. I couldn't be happier for him," Southgate told reporters.
"To do it as quick as he has as well, he still has a lot of his career to go, is an incredible achievement.
"The players gave him a brilliant reception afterwards, and I think that was a response to the record and what he's had to recover from."
Kane's goal came towards the end of an impressive first-half performance which would have put the game to bed had Jack Grealish not missed a glaring chance from close range when set up by the Tottenham striker.
In the end, England had to hold out as Italy pulled a goal back through debutant Mateo Retegui and Luke Shaw was sent off in the 80th minute following two quick-fire yellow cards.
"We showed two sides without a doubt. We had great control from the back in the first half ... frankly we should have had the game buried, it should have been 3-0 at halftime," added Southgate, whose team faces Ukraine on Sunday.
"We conceded a really poor goal, several errors in the lead up to it, and then the whole emotion of evening changes.
"In the end, they can reference something that they've had to grind and dig in away from home, which is hugely important ... but equally we'd prefer more of the first half than second.
"This will be a fantastic result only if we win on Sunday."
Italy coach Roberto Mancini was left to rue a poor first-half effort which cost his team a chance at a result, but he was encouraged by what he saw during the Azzurri's second-half performance.
"Second half we were great. We saw the real team there which pressed and didn't let them breathe," said Mancini.
"We conceded two goals which we could have avoided. The first goal was down to distraction ... In the second half, we didn't concede a shot against a team which didn't go down to 10 until the 80th minute."