Once we’ve done the predictable jokes about lederhosen — “It was all right, actually, but the shorts were a bit heavier than I thought” — the enormous stein of beer in the accompanying promotional photo — “It wasn’t even real beer!” — and the small talk over just when is the club trip to Oktoberfest, Harry Kane is very much at ease.
It is as if something has released a pressure valve, allowing his full potential to flow.
Kane has flown in from Munich to be with England, a novel experience as the Englishman abroad, a role he appears to be relishing. He’s a new dad again, his fourth child, Henry, having been born last month.
And he’s gone from the Harry Kane team to being a cog, albeit a hugely important and expensive one, in a precision-engineered trophy machine, a six-time Champions League-winning club. And he seems very happy with his lot.
Last week his England manager Gareth Southgate said that the challenge of change might improve Kane, offer some marginal mental gains and the captain concurs.
Harry Kane, 30, has opened up in his first major UK interview since moving to Bayern Munich
The England captain moved from Tottenham to Germany in a huge £100m move this summer
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‘That was pretty much the main reason [for leaving Spurs],’ says Kane. ‘There’s a lot of talk about trophies and of course I want to win trophies. But that wasn’t the only reason I went to Bayern Munich. I felt that I needed to be playing at the highest level if I ultimately wanted to improve.
‘If I want to be around the best strikers and best players in the world then I need to be playing in the Champions League and fighting for titles. I just felt last season went well for me personally [he scored 30 league goals] but not for Spurs as a team. I felt it was time to take another step and take another challenge. The thing I have felt most since I’ve been at Bayern Munich is the pressure. It’s not just wanting to win; you have to win.’
It’s a telling observation, one with which Real Madrid’s and Barcelona’s players will be familiar but not Tottenham’s, despite the fact that any professional at a top club is clearly under considerable pressure. At certain clubs in Europe, however, it is just bigger in every respect.
‘We haven’t started the Champions League yet but the expectation is to win it. It’s a different pressure and I feel that will only help me get better on the biggest stage and perform at a higher level,’ says Kane.
One of his first challenges will be familiar: Bayern’s opening European fixture will be against Manchester United. ‘I had a feeling we were going to get an English club. To go into the Champions League as one of the favourites is a lot different to going in there just hoping to get through the group.’
There’s the nub. Kane can’t exactly relax because he is still the focal point of a team and the demands are greater. But he is finally where he belongs, at a team who have won 17 major trophies and two Champions Leagues in the last 10 years rather than one that last won a cup in 2008.
There’s an obvious marker in the career development of England and Tottenham’s record scorer that we will be reminded of on Tuesday when England take on Scotland at Hampden Park.
It was six years ago at that stadium against the oldest enemy that Kane first captained England. He would score too, a 93rd-minute equaliser, a real sting in the tail for the Scots, given that they had scored two fantastic late free-kicks, both from Leigh Griffiths, to go into the 90th minute 2-1 up.
The former Spurs captain has started well at Bayern with three goals in his opening four games
Kane was a 24-year-old with five goals for England. Southgate was a novice in terms of international teams, having just been offered the job full time after Sam Allardyce’s indiscretions over a pint of wine.
Neither were consensus choices as the obvious men to lead England out of the international wilderness.
However, there were some who recognised the latent leader in Kane, who four years earlier had been on the bench at Leicester and Norwich. That week before the Scotland game in 2017 Southgate took the team camping.
Or rather, they spent a few days yomping across Exmoor with the Royal Marines, a disparate group of supposedly pampered Premier League stars put in their place. Kane apparently stood out.
‘We did a camping thing where we learned to put up our own tents and had the rations that the Marine guys have when they’re going to war,’ said Kane.
‘We woke up at sunrise and did a trek with all the stuff on our backs. Then we did an obstacle course. That was fun, although I think they left out some of the tougher parts. We had to follow the Marines. Whenever they shouted “Down!” we had to crawl in the mud, through stones and then a tunnel full of sheep dip.’ Then came the unpalatable experience of being pushed underwater through a tunnel.
‘So we were all soaking wet, with sand and mud everywhere, and we thought we were going to get in a car and go back to camp, until they told us we were walking back — another hour on the road. That was probably the hardest part.
‘Then we got back to the place we were staying. I was looking forward to a nice, hot shower and it was just a bit of water dripping out.’ He laughs. ‘Brutal’ is his verdict.
German giants Bayern have won three out of their first three Bundesliga games this season
Kane has settled in well already and understands the expectation of winning at such a big club
‘It was the Champions League final that night — Real Madrid v Juventus — and we had a few drinks in the bar watching the game with the Marines. It was just a really good time.’
He didn’t know it then, but the testimonials that night from the Marines would tip Southgate into making him captain.
‘I think Gareth did use that to see who stood out in terms of leadership. Leadership comes in many ways. It isn’t just the guy in the front shooting the paintball. Maybe the way I got on with the Marines and the way I handled certain situations.
‘I know that Gareth asked some of the Marines afterwards who they thought were natural leaders, who were approachable and who other players were leaning towards to talk to. I think that might have helped in me becoming captain. It was a fantastic few days.’
Still, it’s a fine line between the whole escapade being derided as a jolly boys’ outing playing soldiers rather than an important team-building exercise: a 2-1 defeat by Scotland would have inclined many to the former view, so Kane’s equaliser was perhaps even more significant.
It provided breathing space for Southgate, and confidence in his management style and thus laid the foundations of the run to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals.
‘Sometimes you look back at moments that, at the time, you didn’t realise how big they were,’ says Kane. ‘For me as captain, losing to Scotland in your first game is not something you want on your resume. Even though we drew the game, it felt a little bit like a win. Whenever you score in the last minute to salvage a result, it’s like that.’
Of course, Kane is principally the architect of his own rise but Southgate elevating him to the captaincy was a significant milestone. ‘It gave me loads of confidence,’ says Kane.
The Londoner also joked about donning the famous Lederhosen for Oktoberfest (pictured)
He also said the huge stein of beer in the accompanying promotional photo wasn’t real beer
‘Whenever a manager shows that [trust], the fact that he saw me as that type of leader in the team and that I could have that role, as a striker it just gave me loads of belief.
‘It gave me the belief that he trusted me as a No 9. I was about 24 at the time. So just to have that faith from Gareth was important. I was extremely proud to be leading the boys out. The noise at Hampden is still one of the best atmospheres I’ve been a part of.
‘We got ahead and then they quickly turned it around with two great free-kicks and then you’re thinking about being an Englishman losing to Scotland.
‘I don’t think I realised how important the goal was until after the game. Sometimes when you become a footballer, you forget the magnitude of these games. That goal reminded me how big that international is and what it means to the fans.
‘I’ve been on a couple of golf trips to Scotland and the caddies still remind me of that goal and how much it’s hurt them. It means I have some good fun whenever I’m in Scotland.’
There is an endearing positivity that has sustained Kane. So even when he was at Leyton Orient, or not making the cut at Norwich or Leicester, he didn’t realise he was probably an afterthought among all the expensive signings at Spurs. It is as though he always believed he would end up here.
‘Throughout my career, even when I was going out on loan, I’ve always had the mindset that I was coming back to be a Spurs player. Maybe it was a bit naive in a way. I said to myself, “They’re sending me out on loan for a bit of experience, but they want me to be their striker”.
Some things fell into place for me. Tim Sherwood getting the job and giving me a chance, then Mauricio [Pochettino] coming in. He was almost the perfect fit for me. He got me physically fitter and stronger and gave me loads of confidence.
‘In any career, things happen for a reason and it plays out how they’re supposed to. I think that’s down to hard work and belief. Some players are playing at 16 or 18; I was 20 or 21 before I got to the top level. But from being on loan to then starting every game and playing for England was a quick turnaround that I think I took in my stride.’
Hampden on Tuesday will be followed by Bayer Leverkusen at home on Friday before facing United. Kane gives the impression of being especially engaged and professionally settled. Maybe England will reap the benefits of that come the summer in his adopted home at the Euros in Germany 24?
‘It isn’t easy when there’s speculation about your future and you’re never sure what you’re going to be doing,’ said Kane. ‘Now I’m fully focused on Bayern Munich. I think it will definitely help England in terms of playing in high-pressure games in the Champions League and title races.
‘That will only help in European Championships and World Cups. It will come down to my performances and the team’s performances in the Euros and World Cups ahead.’
Now just that Oktoberfest date to nail down and Kane will be all set.