Giorgio Chiellini is a big admirer of England striker Harry Kane but the veteran defender says Italy will have to be wary of threats from all over the pitch in Sunday’s Euro 2020 final.
Italy booked their spot in the final with a penalty shoot-out win over Spain on Tuesday, while England reached their first ever European Championship final thanks to Kane’s extra-time winner against Denmark a day later.
After a slow start to Euro 2020, Tottenham striker Kane has netted four times in the three knockout rounds and a goal in the final will see him become England’s outright highest goalscorer in major tournaments (currently 10, level with Gary Lineker).
The Three Lions captain scored six times at World Cup 2018, repeating Lineker’s feat from 1986 of winning the golden boot.
He is behind only Cristiano Ronaldo and Patrik Schick (both five) in the scoring charts at Euro 2020, with another tournament golden boot firmly in his sights.
Chiellini has been superb for the Azzurri throughout their run to the final and the Juventus defender knows he will have to be at his best to keep a resurgent Kane quiet.
“It will be tough, extremely tough,” he told Euro2020.com.
“I have always liked Harry Kane a lot. I still remember one of his first matches with England, when we played against them in Turin [on Kane’s full England debut, a 1-1 draw in 2015]. Even then he made a huge impression on me.
“I was lucky enough to play against him in a game against Tottenham. He knows how to play deep and how to play a defence-splitting pass for a team-mate. He scores with his head and from long and close range.”
England’s abundance of talent in attack means Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish have managed just one start between them.
Despite talking up Kane’s talents, Chiellini has warned his Azzurri team-mates to be on high alert should any of that trio make an appearance on Sunday.
“England are clearly not just Kane because they have amazing players on both wings and their substitutes could all be in the starting XI of a team that wins this competition,” he added.
“Players like Grealish,Sancho, Rashford, [Dominic] Calvert-Lewin, [Phil] Foden were all on the bench but they’re top players, including [Jordan] Henderson.
“It will be a great match. Neither team will be afraid but both will have a lot of respect for each other.”
The clash will be Italy’s 10th major tournament final (six World Cup, four European Championship), with only Germany (14) having played in more among European nations.
Roberto Mancini’s men won the European Championship in 1968, but have lost their subsequent two final appearances in the competition (2000 and 2012).