As England prepare for the UEFA EURO 2020 final against Italy on Sunday, the significance of the Three Lions’ first major showpiece in 55 years is not lost on captain Harry Kane.
Yet far from being a heavy burden, the 27-year-old views the Wembley decider as an opportunity to be “remembered in history” as England bid to win a maiden European title. Kane chatted to EURO2020.com about the final, how England’s mindset has changed and how he’s planning to handle Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci.
On playing the final on home turf
To be playing at Wembley makes the occasion even bigger and even more special. To have our own fans there singing and edging us on – the energy is going to be amazing. So there will be no better place to win our second major trophy than at Wembley again.
It’s a great moment in our history as a nation. The excitement is going to be through the roof; I’m sure there’ll be a few nerves as well. It’s just about going out there and feeding off all that energy in the stadium and the crowd and trying to use that to our advantage.
On the significance of the game in England’s history
In 1966, obviously, England won the World Cup and it was such an amazing achievement as a team and as a country. The fans are so behind us, every tournament they’re pushing us and willing us to get far and this has been no different.
Now we have that opportunity to create even more history, and [for] our parents and family members who’ve never seen England in a final before – and I know that goes across the whole country.
It’s a special moment to be in and if we can finish the job and win, then obviously we’ll be remembered in history for the rest of our lives. That’s the challenge we have, so we’ll have to go and take it.
On the shift in the England team’s mindset
I said before the game [against Denmark] that there’s a lot of questions about whether we’d learn from past experiences, from 2018. I said I feel like this squad have. We’re in a better place mentally, dealing with those types of games. But it’s about performing on the pitch and we definitely showed that. It was the first time we went behind in the tournament, the first goal we’d conceded.
There was no panic. There was no disorganisation. We just stuck to the process; we knew what we were capable of. And then, after that, we grew into the game, got the goal and fully deserved the victory. It shows great belief in each other, a great mindset in where we want to go as a team. And we’re going to need that on Sunday if we want to be champions as well.
On facing Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci
First and foremost, they are great defenders. They read the game really well and they know where to be; they’ve got great positioning. And, of course, they’re two warriors. So I’m going to expect a big battle. But that’s what you play football for. I just drive the battles against centre-halves all the time.
They are going to be putting everything on the line for them to win and we’ll be putting everything on the line for us to win. May the best people win, but I’m looking forward to that challenge. As a striker, if you want to be the best, you have to play against the best, and that will be the case on Sunday.
On going up against an Italy side unbeaten in 33 games
It’ll be a tough game. Italy are a great side. They’ve got a great a history of winning major tournaments as well. They’ve got great experience in the team, they’ve got great individuals, but collectively they have a real togetherness. It’s going to be a tough battle, but you know we’ve got more than enough in our team to win.
We just have to be focused on ourselves, take care of all the preparation and go into that game with the mindset we’ve taken into every other game: that we are capable of winning. In big games, in major finals, it’s fine details that get you over the line, and we need to make sure they’re in our favour.
On what it would mean to win the EURO
It would mean everything to me and this team, for sure. I’ve said before: winning something with your nation would surpass anything you can do at club level, so we have that opportunity. It’s been a long time since our country was in a final, so we’ll just have to grab it with both hands now.