Back in 2005, a fresh-faced, shaved-head Harry Kane posed for a picture next to then England captain and Real Madrid star David Beckham, along with a friend.
Back then, Beckham was carrying the hopes of his country as England’s ‘Golden Generation’ was preparing for their final shot at winning a trophy at the World Cup in Germany the following year, having fallen short at the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004.
16 years later, Kane wears Beckham’s captain’s armband and carries the hopes of his country with it as England’s young guns prepare for their second semi-final at a major tournament in three years.
Oh, and the friend alongside them in the picture, Kate Goodland, is now his wife.
Kane has already done what Beckham and his ‘Golden Generation’ of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen, Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Ashley Cole and the rest couldn’t. He’s led England to two of the country’s three semi-finals in their entire footballing history.
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The first came in 1966, when England won the World Cup and claimed their only major tournament victory to date. The second came in Russia 52 years later, when England overachieved with a young squad, and actually won a penalty shootout before getting knocked out by Croatia in extra-time.
The third is Thursday morning, against dark horses Denmark, in a game they really should win for an opportunity that won’t be this straightforward ever again.
England had a relatively easy group, exorcising the demons of Croatia in 2018 first up before surviving a potential banana skin against Scotland and closing out the group with a second win against Czech Republic.
England only scored two goals in those three games, both by Raheem Sterling and the calls to drop an out-of-form and short-on-fitness Kane were becoming more and more legitimate.
Their biggest test so far has been against Germany, a tall mountain to climb psychologically and emotionally for England, who haven’t beaten their old rivals in a knockout match since 1966, rather than an actual footballing test.
Germany are good, yes, but they have finally come to the end of their current cycle of World Cup winners and are embarking on a rebuild. It was hardly a Germany team that this England squad should have feared.
And they didn’t, with Raheem Sterling extending his run as England’s only scorer at the tournament before Kane finally got up and running with his first goal of the Euros.
Against Ukraine, he got two more – and could have had a spectacular third – before he was brought off with the result safe at 4-0 and England in another semi-final.
Already a World Cup golden boot winner, Kane is now in pole position to overtake Cristiano Ronaldo and Patrik Schick at the top of Euro 2020 goalscoring charts. And England will need him to.
From here to the end of the tournament, England’s fortunes will be tied more closely to Kane’s than ever before.
Since making his England debut in March 2015, Kane has made 59 appearances for his country and has bagged 37 times in those games, averaging more than a goal every other game and rapidly closing in on Wayne Rooney’s international record of 53.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for Kane’s scoring ability, with a far more impressive record now looking within his reach in the Premier League.
Kane made his Tottenham debut in the 2012/13 season but wasn’t a regular until he forced himself into the starting XI for the 2014/15 season. He scored 21 goals in 34 games that season.
Touted as a one-season wonder, due to his lack of any particular attribute being noticeably world class, he did even better in his second season, scoring 25 times. His third season was even better, with 29 goals in just 30 games before breaking the 30-goal mark a year later.
You get the idea.
He has spent seven seasons leading the line for Spurs to date and has only missed out on the 20-goal mark twice, both of which were in years he was dogged by injuries and were also the seasons which he turned out the fewest times in the Premier League.
In his seven full seasons at Spurs (he scored three goals in 10 appearances the season before fully breaking into the team) he has averaged 23 goals. He turns 28 later this month and is currently 94 goals behind Alan Shearer’s all-time Premier League record of 260 goals.
At his current rate, he will reach it just after his 32nd birthday, three years younger than Shearer was when he set the record.
And by that time, his international goals could have made him a European Championship-winning captain, and with the next World Cup little over a year away, maybe even the man holding that aloft too.
Both of which were predicted of Beckham, but now, despite a far less stellar cast of names, they seem far more achievable.