England captain Harry Kane said the team are primed to “make history” ahead of their Euro 2024 opener against Serbia on Sunday. Speaking with German magazine Spiegel in an interview, the striker backed England’s chances of winning a breakthrough European Championship, their first major men’s trophy since the 1966 World Cup.
“I’m not saying we’ll definitely win the tournament, but we have a really good chance,” Kane said, telling the magazine England had “found ourselves as a group”. The 30-year-old scored 44 goals in 45 games in all competitions for Bayern Munich and will now lead England at the tournament in his adopted home of Germany.
Kane, who moved from boyhood club Tottenham before last season, said England wanted to reverse a trend of past disappointments. “In England’s history we’ve struggled to get across the finish line at major tournaments,” said Kane.
He admitted the loss in the final of Euro 2020 to Italy on penalties at Wembley was “particularly difficult to cope with”. “We were as close to the title you can get without winning it. Now I feel like this team is extremely hungry. “We want to make history and the only way to do that is to win the title.”
Despite a stellar individual career, Kane has never won a team trophy. Serial Bundesliga winners Bayern finished last season trophyless for the first time in 12 years. “If you look at my career and the doubts that have accompanied me, that’d be a great way to make a point,” Kane said.
England’s all-time top goalscorer is also keen to make amends after missing a crucial penalty in a 2-1 quarter-final loss to eventual finalists France at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. “It still hurts and I know that pain will probably never go away,” added Kane, who took himself off social media after firing over from the spot. “I completely withdrew and just spent time with my family. If I had started reading every headline or scrolling through Instagram and Twitter, I would have gone crazy.”
England will spend the Euros at a resort just outside the central German village of Blankenhain, which boasts three golf courses. Kane, an avid golfer who has played regularly with Germany veteran Thomas Mueller since moving to Munich, lamented he never had enough time to hone his craft further.
“That’s what frustrates me about golf. I don’t have the time it takes to really perfect it. I know I’m a good golfer but that’s the problem with golf and the reason I love it: you can’t solve every problem.”
Meanwhile, Conor Gallagher is hoping England’s shock Euro 2024 warm-up defeat to Iceland can spark a reaction. Gareth Southgate’s men slumped to a 1-0 loss at Wembley in their final match before jetting off to Germany.
England, however, remain one of the pre-tournament favourites thanks to an abundance of attacking talent, featuring Kane, Jude Bellingham, Phil Foden and Bukayo Saka. They are expected to cruise through a group also featuring Denmark and Slovenia and Gallagher is hoping the Iceland performance will eradicate any danger of complacency.
“It’s very important (to win the opening game) in tournament football,” said the Chelsea midfielder. “Just doing the first thing as well as you can – even if it is the right pass, winning your tackle, winning your headers, second balls, doing the basics – to give the team confidence to go and win that first game. It wasn’t a good result and not the best performance (against Iceland). It could be good that it happened. It could be a wake-up call for us that it is not easy to win games against any country and we can be more than ready to beat Serbia.”
Gallagher comes into the tournament with his club future still up in the air. Despite captaining Chelsea for much of last season under Mauricio Pochettino, the Blues could look to ease their pressures to meet financial rules by cashing in one of the club’s academy graduates.
Gallagher is reportedly attracting interest from Tottenham and Aston Villa. Despite his insistence that his focus is fully on ending England’s 58-year wait for major tournament glory, Gallagher was glowing in his praise for Pochettino, who left Chelsea are just one season in charge last month.
“I’ve come a long way this season. I give a lot of credit to Pochettino and what he’s done for me,” added the 24-year-old. “It puts me in a better position to be in the team this tournament. He just showed his belief and trust in me which is all a player wants. If a manager shows you a bit of love it makes you play better and, long story short, gives you confidence and that’s what he gave me.”
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