Published 07 June 2021 4 min read
England Men's Senior Team
Eyes on the prize
England captain Harry Kane joined host Adam Smith for the first episode of the Official England Podcast to chat all things UEFA EURO 2020.
The 27 year old will be skippering his country for a second major tournament this summer, having led the Three Lions out during the FIFA World Cup three years ago.
The summer of 2018 will live long in fans’ memories as England marched to the semi-finals only to suffer extra-time heartbreak against Croatia while Kane became the first Englishman to win the Golden Boot since Gary Lineker in 1986.
Now Kane and his squad mates have the opportunity to go one step further and give fans the summer of a lifetime by lifting the trophy at Wembley.
“We can’t wait to finally get back out there because we had such a great World Cup and now we are itching to get back at it and play in a major tournament,” said the Tottenham Hotspur striker.
“We have a real opportunity to put smiles on people’s faces. It’s been a tough couple of years for people all over the world and in this country so it’s an opportunity for us to give back.
“There’s a bit more pressure on us going into this tournament than what there was in 2018 but we’ve got to take that in our stride and look forward to the challenge.
“Everyone gets on really well and we’ve got a great balance of young and experienced players that’ve been playing in the biggest games this season.
“There’s a lot of competition for places and a lot of players playing well - as a striker there’s so many creative players around me to create chances it’s a joy to play in."
Much has been made of the diaspora of talent that Gareth Southgate had to choose his squad from this summer and Kane believes his manager has put together a well-rounded group of 26.
Eleven of the squad have already contested a major European final this season with their club and Chelsea boys Mason Mount, Ben Chilwell and Reece James were all successful in their quest for a Champions League winners’ medal.
And Kane was particularly full of praise for 21-year-old Phil Foden, who was on the losing side in Portugal but finished the season with a Premier League and League Cup double as well as the PFA young player of the year award.
“Phil is great. He loves football. He loves being out on the pitch and he loves expressing himself,” Kane said of his international team-mate.
“You can see that as he’s played over the last couple of years he’s constantly improved. His understanding has got better, his final product has got better and we all know how good he is at going past players.
“This will be his first major tournament so there’s a lot of different expectations and pressures that come with that but that is why we’ve got a good squad around us, to help players through that.
“To be one of the best teams at a tournament you have to have great strength in depth and that is what we’ve got here.”
05 Jun 2021 6:36
The England squad get some target practice in at training as they prepare for EURO 2020
Smith and Kane also touched upon the pride he feels when he pulls on the captain’s armband to lead his country out onto the field.
Since becoming England’s youngest-ever World Cup captain, the striker has gone from strength to strength and finished as top goalscorer in UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying with 12 goals in eight games.
Now he’s hoping he can do what he does best in front of a home crowd as Southgate’s men prepare to play each of their three group games at Wembley before hopefully returning to the national stadium for the semi-finals and the final.
“To be doing it [captaining the side] at a major tournament at Wembley is special - I can’t wait to hear the fans sing the national anthem and hopefully thrive off that experience," he added.
“Most of us in this group won’t experience a home tournament so this is the closest we are going to get. We need to use it to our advantage and use the atmosphere to push ourselves all the way.
“Having the fans makes such a big difference and to feel their atmosphere in the stadium is what we play football for. You want to score goals in front of fans, celebrate with fans and win games with the fans so I’m really excited.”