A football hero England can be proud of: How magnanimous, gentlemanly Harry Kane conjures up memories of Bobby Moore rather than his scandal-tainted predecessors as captain
His red shirt was darkened with sweat, he was being eaten alive by a swarm of midges that had descended on the humid Volgograd stadium, and, by his own admission, he was ‘absolutely buzzing’ with adrenaline after scoring the last-gasp goal that salvaged the nation’s pride.
Yet on Monday night as the BBC’s pitch-side reporter Gabby Logan thrust a microphone into his angular face and excitedly asked how it felt to have led England to victory in their opening World Cup match, and to have scored twice in the 2-1 win, the captain chose not to glorify his own heroics.
Instead, switching roles seamlessly, from star striker to footballing ambassador and role model, Harry Edward Kane handed all the credit to his team-mates, praising their ‘togetherness’ and the ‘great bond’ that had developed between them.
Such magnanimity is fast becoming a hallmark of the admirable citizen Kane, who won’t turn 25 until July 28th, making him England’s youngest ever World Cup skipper.
Being interviewed at England’s hotel base in Repino while taking an ice bath yesterday, it was clear what leading his team to a winning start meant. It was, he said, ‘what dreams are made of. I’m so proud. We fought to the end.
Being interviewed at England’s hotel base in Repino while taking an ice bath yesterday, it was clear what leading his team to a winning start meant. It was, Harry Kane said, ‘what dreams are made of. I’m so proud. We fought to the end.’
‘Obviously you get such a good feeling with any goal you score. But to score a winner in a World Cup is just incredible. The celebrations — and watching the celebrations back home and in the stadium — incredible.
‘I have been part of that before when I was a kid watching football — to see it and be part of it was amazing.’
He is also not one to let the fact that England’s display was the most-watched television programme this year — a peak audience of 18.3 million saw it on BBC One, more than the 13.1 million peak for the Royal wedding — go to his head.
Kane’s gentlemanly values and unabashed patriotism — witness his full-throated rendition of the national anthem before Monday’s match — certainly bring to mind Bobby Moore, his most illustrious predecessor as England captain.
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Here is a man so thoroughly decent that he once spent two hours signing autographs in the car park after training with his club, Tottenham Hotspur. Why? Because, as he says, he was once a Spurs fan himself, and remembers how it felt to be snubbed by one’s idols.
This is a global superstar who still returns to watch his school football team; who represents a charity that preserves London’s green open spaces; speaks out with concern against childhood obesity; spurns nightclubs for the simple pleasure of a family meal at his local curry house in Essex, where a member of staff yesterday told the Mail how he had ‘thrilled’ her son with the gift of a signed football.
In interviews, Kane — not even born when Bobby Moore died in 1993 — says he was inspired by two past England captains when making his way in the game: Wayne Rooney (who, somewhat ironically, gave him advice on the company he should keep) and David Beckham, who hails from the same East London manor, and attended the same school.
However, Google the names Rooney and Beckham along with ‘scandal’ and you will find all manner of lurid allegations, playing away from home being the common denominator.
Do the same with Kane and one finds only one slur: that he once teased Liverpool supporters over a dubious penalty decision.
When it comes to romance, Harry is strictly a one-woman man. In his teens, he began dating Kate Goodland, an apple-cheeked fitness instructor whom he has known since primary school, and says he could never countenance going out with a lingerie model or C-list celeb.
Kane’s gentlemanly values and unabashed patriotism — witness his full-throated rendition of the national anthem before Monday’s match — certainly bring to mind Bobby Moore, his most illustrious predecessor as England captain
‘You would never know if they were with you for the right reasons,’ says Kane, who recently signed a new £200,000-a-week deal with Spurs. ‘Is it the money? You’d never really know. So I’m lucky I’ve got a childhood sweetheart.’
In a rare moment of self-publicity, last summer he tweeted a photograph of himself going down on one knee to propose to a tearful Kate on a Bahamas beach. She, in turn, posts supportive messages, as well as images celebrating their contented domestic life, on Instagram.
Kane is evidently very much the ‘new man’, and Kate is complimentary of his dedication as a fiance and father.
When their first child, Ivy Jane, was born in January 2017, his fiancee chose to have the baby by ‘hypnobirthing’, a New Age method that avoids the need for conventional pain relief by relaxation and breathing techniques, hypnotherapy and submersion in water. ‘Harry was an amazing birthing partner,’ she later reported.
They have a second child due this autumn, which prevented Kate travelling to Russia with Harry’s parents and older brother. On Instagram yesterday she dubbed Kane her ‘King’ and said, ‘Gutted Ivy and I can’t be there! But watching from home! We [love] you!’
She also shared an image of Ivy in an England shirt with Kane’s shirt number, 9, on the back, with the caption ‘Let’s go Daddy!! #worldcup2018’
The family live in a relatively unpretentious Essex house, the value of which has almost doubled to £2.5 million following recent renovations, with their two Labradors, named — after Kane’s favourite players of American football — Wilson and Brady.
Unlike other pampered footballers, who bemoan the ‘pressures’ of their profession, Kane says he rarely feels stressed. He wakes up and thanks his lucky stars that he is earning a wonderful living by playing the game he loves.
‘If I need to relax, I take my two dogs for a walk or I play a round of golf,’ he says simply.
In a promising omen for England, he and Moore had similar childhoods. Both hail from working-class families, and they were born and raised within a few miles of one another on the borders of East London and Essex; Moore in Barking, Kane in Chingford.
This is a footballing hotbed that also produced Jimmy Greaves and Beckham — with whom an 11-year-old Kane was portentously photographed, at the opening of his Greenwich football academy in 2005. Kate, then aged 12, was by his side.
When it comes to romance, Harry is strictly a one-woman man. In his teens, he began dating Kate Goodland, an apple-cheeked fitness instructor whom he has known since primary school, and says he could never countenance going out with a lingerie model or C-list celeb
By way of his heritage, Kane might easily have played for Ireland had that country’s football association been quick enough to spot his potential.
His late maternal grandfather, Michael John Kane, a talented footballer whom he credits for his ‘sporting genes’, was from Connemara, and Harry still has cousins in County Galway, two of whom are locally famous as singers, the Kane Sisters.
However, when remembering his less-than-smooth rise to the top of the game, he thanks his parents, Pat, 54, and Kim, 51, who encouraged him unstintingly and were invariably on the touchline when he played for his school and local team, Ridgeway Rovers. There is praise, too, for his elder brother, Charlie, 29.
It was his father who kept Kane from aping many of his England teammates and covering himself in tattoos. He once said, ‘My dad would never let me. I used to want some, but Dad always told me I would regret it when I was older.’
Neighbours have recalled them as a close-knit family and one remembered: ‘We used to see him carrying the goal posts with his brother to the park. One of the brothers was taller and the posts used to travel up the road at an angle.’
Like Moore, the young Kane lacked pace. He was so slow, in fact, that Frank Lampard Senior — who watched him train — suggested he buy running spikes and practise sprinting. (Kane mistakenly bought javelin-throwing shoes, and had to send them back.)
Though he now stands at a sinewy 6ft 2in, he was also quite small and slight, and had to bulk up in the gym.
Kane was clever enough to pass his GCSEs, and according to his former PE teacher at Chingford Foundation School, Mark Leadon, he ‘put his head down and worked hard at everything he did’.
Nevertheless, he set his mind on becoming a footballer from an early age, and was determined to make the most of his talent.
At 11, however, he was rejected by Arsenal’s academy and had a spell with Watford before being signed by Spurs. Then, in his teens, there came more setbacks. While other starlets were breaking into the first team, he was loaned to teams such as Leyton Orient and Millwall, where he fought tooth and nail to prove himself and gain his chance in the Premiership.
Among Tottenham’s fans, it has made local boy Kane a folk hero. ‘Harry Kane, he’s one of our own,’ they sing proudly. As for female supporters, ignoring his longstanding relationship — not to mention his slight lisp and strong Essex diction — many declare their undying love for him.
‘What a heart-breaker!’ cooed one devoted fan on Twitter.
Kate also shared an image of Ivy in an England shirt with Kane’s shirt number, 9, on the back, with the caption ‘Let’s go Daddy!! #worldcup2018’
‘I’d marry him tomorrow,’ was another typical comment. As children, he and Kate lived ten minutes’ walk from one another, but they only began dating in 2011 after being friends for years.
With her bottle-blonde hair and perma-tan, a taste for fashionable clothes and brightly-coloured bikinis, plus a growing army of Instagram followers, she may seem, at first blush, the archetypal WAG.
But Kate is no Coleen Rooney or Victoria Beckham, say insiders; rather she’s a modest, low-key young woman who prefers to spend evenings at home with Harry, watching movies, rather than go out on the town.
Nonetheless, her lifestyle has changed considerably since she and her boyfriend had dates at Lee Valley cinema, followed by fish and chips.
The couple make no secret of their love for the finer things in life, posting snaps of their exotic holidays online, and they have a fleet of three luxury cars: a limited edition Bentley Continental GT Supersports costing an eye-watering £233,800, a Jaguar F-Pace, and a Range Rover Autobiography.
Like many top footballers, Kane supplements his £10 million-a-year salary with lucrative endorsements. He has appeared in commercials for Mars bars, and Beats By Dre headphones.
In a sign that he is ready to raise his profile beyond the confines of football, we also saw him at this year’s Brit Awards, where he gave out the Best Solo Artist award. Then again, even unassuming Bobby Moore wasn’t averse to doing the occasional TV ad.
Of course, whether Kane can emulate Moore’s feats in 1966 is quite another matter.
But if and when England are knocked out of the tournament, one thing seems guaranteed: there will be no histrionics from the captain. No Gazza-style weeping in full public view.
‘The last time I cried was a long time ago. I don’t really cry at films or anything like that,’ says Kane, surmising that it was probably in 2004, when, as a ten-year-old boy, he watched Portugal eliminate the national team from the European Championships.
In fact, he admits, Kate was upset with him because he failed to shed a tear at the birth of their daughter.
But then, that’s England’s new Captain Marvel. He may be a New Age Man, he may be a true gent — but he certainly isn’t a cissy.
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