Juventus defender Giogio Chiellini has insisted his famous challenge on Harry Kane in 2015 was not deliberate and has also commented on his thoughts on the then-youngster upon seeing him for the first time.
Kane was only 180 seconds into his full England debut in a friendly with Italy three years ago, when Chiellini made his introduction known by crashing into the lad.
The pair will meet once again on Tuesday night as Tottenham take on twice European champions Juventus in their Champions League last 16 tie.
Since their first meeting, Chiellini has become one of the most dependable defenders in Europe whilst Harry Kane has become one of the continent’s most feared strikers.
The 33-year-old said during a press conference ahead of Tuesday’s clash that he didn’t intend harm on Kane in that original challenge.
“I don’t actually remember it very well but in Turin he was certainly a great striker. I didn’t make that tackle on purpose!” Chiellini laughed.
“But in my opinion he was already then one of the best strikers. People had already talked about him a lot.
“This type of challenge for us as defenders give us an impetus to play football. These are the matches that we will keep in mind in the future.
“I know I judged him properly before because I considered him a great striker then and he has become a great international striker.”
Whilst Chiellini is part of a Juventus back four that have only conceded one goal in their last 16 matches, Kane has 36 goals in 37 games this season.
“One-to-one clashes are important but the whole team will have to do its best to limit, not only Harry Kane, but they have this ‘fab four’ [Kane, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Son Heung-min] in the attacking area," he added.
“Tottenham are not just Harry Kane but a whole team.”
Harry Kane also had his say during his own press conference, taking the opportunity to compliment his opposite number.
“He’s an amazing defender,” Kane said. “On my first start for England, in the first five minutes he made a challenge and I had a dead leg for about five minutes.
“It was a good welcome to international football. We know how good their defence is as a whole and obviously their goalkeeper as well.
“It will be a fantastic challenge and I’m looking forward to coming up against him again.”