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Champions League

‘Harry Kane is the ultimate leader – he has given England unity and a winning mentality’ – Andros Townsend

I played with Harry Kane for two years at Tottenham and let me tell you, he will be in the dressing room keeping the England ­players’ feet on the ground.

He is vocal, he is demanding and he wants the best for his team-mates as well as ­himself. He is everything you want in a leader.

He and Jordan ­Henderson, a ­Champions League and ­Premier League winner with Liverpool, will be the biggest presence in that England dressing room.

They will be ensuring the players are not allowing all the praise to go to their heads – even though they deserve it – because the job is not done. Far from it.

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Skipper Kane (right) and vice-captain Henderson have done a brilliant job in the dressing room
Skipper Kane (right) and vice-captain Henderson have done a brilliant job in the dressing room

Harry and Jordan will be reinforcing it – day in, day out. Some people criticise Harry because he doesn’t shout that much on the pitch but I know from seeing it first hand – if he has seen ­something out there that needs to improve he isn’t afraid to tell you about it.

The thing is, the players don’t need telling. They’ve ­already got the message.

During 2018 I saw a lot of England stars posting the ‘It’s Coming Home’ hashtag on ­social media and getting sucked into the joy of the ­nation.

This time around I’ve hardly seen any of that.

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Gareth Southgate has done such an amazing job in terms of being a calming influence with the players.

But the players themselves now have the winning ­mentality.

They know from ­experience the importance of picking off each game as it comes and not looking too far ahead.

And there’s a unity in this set-up that I’ve never seen ­before with the Three Lions. I was in the England squad from 2013-16 and I’ve seen how that camaraderie has grown.

We’ve gone from the end of the Golden Generation who kept themselves to themselves to a host of young players who have all come through the ­system – a group of players who all know each other really well.

Do England have the quality as well as the unity to win Euro 2020? Comment below.

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What we’ve seen since ­Gareth Southgate came in has been a real shift in the ­momentum from a business trip to a brotherhood.

The first thing he brought in was team bonding and now we are reaping the rewards.

Players are desperate to be a part of it. We’ve gone from players keeping themselves to themselves after dinner in ­previous regimes to hanging around with each other, ­playing PlayStation, pool and generally wanting to spend time together.

For me one of the biggest tests of team spirit is the r­eaction of the bench when someone scores.

When Harry Kane scored against Germany, you saw Jadon Sancho – who had barely kicked a ball – really celebrating with the other fringe players.

That’s the kind of thing that has taken this England ­further than the Golden Generation who probably should have won a major tournament.

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Southgate’s ­England are a step closer to putting that right. One step at a time.

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