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Published 24 March 2023 6 min read
England Men's Senior Team

A look at how Harry Kane grew into England's record goalscorer

Written by:

Nicholas Veevers

England content manager and programme editor Nicholas Veevers looks back at Harry Kane's career, from an ambitious youngster to his country's record goalscorer

I can still remember the first time I saw Harry Kane play in an England shirt.

It was for the MU19s in a game against Denmark in February 2011 at what was a sparkling new Amex Stadium in Brighton.

He was still a year young for that age group at the time and while there was no goal for him that night, he played a big part in the performance.

It was a rangy display from Kane in a competitive and physical game before he was replaced on the hour mark by West Ham’s Robert Hall, who eventually scored the goal in a 1-0 win for Noel Blake’s side.

Harry had already established himself on the international scene by then, having made an impression with the MU17s in their final qualifying round of the U17 EURO in 2010.

After scoring his first international goals at any level against Malta at Burton Albion and Slovakia at the Sixfields Stadium in Northampton, he helped John Peacock’s squad reach their EURO Finals in Liechtenstein that summer.
In action for England MU17s at the Sixfields Stadium in Northampton in 2010
In action for England MU17s at the Sixfields Stadium in Northampton in 2010
Unfortunately, Kane missed that trip after picking up a late-season injury, and also what would’ve been a first medal, as he watched on from home when the Young Lions went on to win the title with a win over Spain in the Final.

But it was under head coach Blake with the MU19s where he really started to make an impression during the 2011-12 season, which also tallied with his first loan spell away from Spurs at his local club Leyton Orient just a few miles from where he grew up in Chingford.

And it was on the familiar and local turf of Brisbane Road in February 2012 when I saw him score the first goal in a 2-1 win over Czech Republic as the team prepared for that year’s U19 EURO Finals in Estonia.

He was the obvious choice to interview for that game’s match programme, of which there’s still a copy in my desk drawer and even as a precocious youngster, Kane left a good first impression back then.

Harry was clearly a level-headed character, completely at ease with himself while also possessing a confidence and determination to succeed whether that was his manner when dealing with those early media requests to speak to him or his focus on the pitch.
24 Mar 2023 1:28

From the Archive: Harry Kane in 2012

An interview with Harry after an U19 EURO qualifier with Montenegro back in 2012

It was in May 2012 that I was privileged to see Kane work at much closer quarters, when he was with the MU19s squad for their Elite Qualifying Round games.

With home advantage and games staged in Lancashire at Preston North End’s Deepdale and Rochdale’s Spotland against Slovenia, Montenegro and Switzerland, Kane was a key member of the squad who topped their group to reach the Finals.

By now, you could see Kane’s relentless devotion to training, hard work and perfecting his game. He was always one of the last to leave the training pitch and the sight of him firing shots, free-kicks and volleys at goal once the sessions had finished became a regular occurrence.

And his practice was paying off. I can still picture his celebration in Tallinn, after scoring the winning goal in the final group game against France before speaking afterwards of how he wanted to dedicate his strike to the recently-passed grandmother of his then girlfriend and now wife Katie.

England went on to reach the semi-final of that tournament and sealed a place at the FIFA U20 World Cup 2013 in Turkey, which turned out to be another crucial experience for Kane as his career developed.

As part of a strong squad under Peter Taylor containing future senior teammates such as John Stones, Eric Dier, James Ward-Prowse, Sam Johnstone, Ross Barkley and Conor Coady, the Young Lions were left disappointed to exit the tournament at the group stage.

After squandering a two-goal lead against Iraq in their opening game, Kane scored a stunning equaliser to rescue a point against Chile in their second match before they went on to face Egypt in their final group match in Bursa knowing they could progress with a win.

But it was a night to forget as two late goals saw them lose 2-0, with Kane having missed two good chances to open the scoring before they were caught out on the break.
Kane was left dejected after exiting the FIFA U20 World Cup at the group stage following defeat to Egypt in 2013
Kane was left dejected after exiting the FIFA U20 World Cup at the group stage following defeat to Egypt in 2013
There was an early signal of Kane’s character immediately after that game, as he openly apologised to the players before the group headed home and watched on as their old age group adversaries France went on to lift the trophy.

While that might have been a low point in his early international career, it was a few months later when a seminal moment in Kane’s England history arrived, as Gareth Southgate was appointed as the new England MU21s head coach in 2013.

Kane was named in Southgate’s first squad as they embarked on their qualifying campaign to reach the 2015 U21 EURO in Czech Republic, but he had to settle for two substitute appearances in the opening games as the new boss weighed up his striking options.

Kane’s determination and dedication on the training pitch had caught the eye of Southgate and his assistant Steve Holland though and it was on a trip to San Marino in October 2013 when Kane fired his way into the reckoning as he blasted a hat-trick in a 4-0 win in Serravalle.

More vital goals followed in 2014 as he headed the winner against Lithuania in Kaunas and added another versus Moldova in Tiraspol a few days later to seal a crucial play-off tie against Croatia.

By this stage, Kane was also making his mark at White Hart Lane and becoming a regular in the Spurs squad for Premier League games. That experience showed as he scored a crucial goal against Croatia at Molineux to help England seal their spot in the Finals of 2015.

A brace in Brest against France in November 2014 proved to be his last goals for the MU21s before his goalscoring form on a domestic front meant senior boss Roy Hodgson picked him and it was no surprise to see the impact he made on his debut against Lithuania in March 2015.

24 Mar 2023 2:08

From the Archive: Harry Kane at the U20 World Cup

Catching up with the striker before England began their FIFA U20 World Cup campaign in 2013

Since then, it’s been magnificent to see Harry’s England career blossom, whether that’s been watching on from the Wembley press box over the years or bumping into him during media events at St. George’s Park.

It’s remarkable when you look at how much he’s achieved with his country in the space of just eight years.

From taking over the armband in 2018 before helping to fire England to an unforgettable World Cup campaign in Russia and bringing home the Golden Boot, he started to scratch off the archetypal schoolboy dreams one by one.

And his pride and commitment to representing England remains as strong as ever. Even speaking to him ahead of England’s 1000th international game against Montenegro and you could still sense and feel the thrill he had of being involved in such an occasion.

Interviewing Harry when he was a member of the England MU21s squad under Gareth Southgate in 2014
Interviewing Harry when he was a member of the England MU21s squad under Gareth Southgate in 2014
Since that 79-second wait for a goal after coming on for his debut at Wembley back in 2015, he’s gone on to add another 53 goals to put his name firmly in England history.
It’s easy to say that it comes as no surprise, as I’m sure anyone who’s been fortunate enough to have seen the work and dedication he puts in to being the best at his trade would add.

But at the age of 29, with plenty of caps to come and knowing the way he lives his life, there’s undoubtedly a real chance for Kane to set an incredible total and legacy for himself in the coming years.
24 Mar 2023 24:59

All 54 of Harry Kane's goals

Celebrate the Three Lions star's record-breaking achievement by watching all 54 of his goals to date