The match will also reunite several Tottenham teammates, but this time against each other. England and Belgium combined have eight Spurs players, most of which are in the starting lineup in north London. Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen perhaps have the more difficult job — trying to contain England striker and World Cup goals leader Harry Kane.
Alderweireld and Vertonghen know Harry well, of course, and Toby said that he hopes that the knowledge he has picked up training with Kane for a few years now will serve Belgium well.
“Hopefully it’s an advantage for the defenders. I know his strength, of course. But his strength is that he’s good at everything. He’s quick, he’s strong, left foot, right foot, headers. It’s so difficult to stop him. That’s what I know. As a team, we have to be tough [in order] to beat him.
“He just breathes football. He wants to improve, improve, improve. He’s not only a goal-scorer. He works so hard for the team. He’s available to help the plays. He’s the all-round striker.”
There’s obviously a ton of affection in those comments, and why shouldn’t there be? Despite all the drama surrounding Toby’s future at Spurs, it’s clear that he likes and respects Kane both as a footballer and as a person.
Just so long as “being tough” doesn’t actually mean “kick Harry Kane a lot.” That’d be a strategy that would feed into Kim McCauley’s “yellow cards” theory, but it sure would make me angry.