Harry Kane during a gym session at St George’s Park on Tuesday
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Harry Kane doesn’t drink. He enjoyed Bayern Munich’s annual trip to Oktoberfest in full lederhosen and ate a giant pretzel, but his jug of beer was barely touched. At the luxurious hotel where he lives, meals are meticulously prepared by his chef: breakfast is an omelette or yoghurt and granola; lunch and dinner consists of salad and vegetables topped off by a rotating carousel of white fish, chicken or beef – salmon is a treat.
He lives away from his wife and children, in a country where he does not speak the language, in a city he cannot enjoy without being mobbed. His family will eventually move over once they find a house, but for now it is a mostly solitary, unremitting existence: eat, sleep, play, recover, repeat. Kane’s is hardly the life of a monk, but when children dream of becoming England captain, they probably don’t picture this.
This, though, is sometimes the life of an elite footballer. Kane has climbed to the top of the game, and he loves it here. He is dedicated to being the perfect athlete because he doesn’t want to stop. So when he says his career is only at half-time, aged 30, it is not just bluster but serious intent.
“The perception in sport is you hit 30 and people start to think that’s the end,” he says. “But the way I’m looking at it is that I almost have the second half of my career [to come]. I’ve had nine or 10 years at the highest level and I’m hoping for another eight or nine years at the highest level again.”
Kane speaks to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak after the successful bid for Euro 2028
That might sound optimistic, but then Kane’s ouput remains broadly on an upwards trend. Perhaps his best years are still to come.
“There is definitely room for improvement. When you look at a lot of the top-level players – Ronaldo, Messi, Lewandowski, Ibrahimovic – they have almost got better as they hit 30. In a lot of sports that happens. Everything is maybe settled in your personal life, you are comfortable with your body, you are comfortable mentally and that just allows you to focus on football.”
Kane is sitting in a colourful side room at St George’s Park, where he is on England duty ahead of Friday’s friendly with Australia and a Euros qualifier against Italy next week. England teammates have been asking about life at Bayern, where Kane has made a fast start: nine goals and four assists in nine games. The manager Thomas Tuchel has come under scrutiny after one or two disjointed performances, with Bayern third in the table – Tottenham, ironically, are top of the Premier League. But Kane has impressed in these early weeks.
“There’s a lot of other stuff that goes into a transfer – the personal stuff, trying to find houses, living in hotels, not having my family with me,” he says. “It’s all stuff I’m not used to. So to be able to have started the way I have, I’m really proud. I could have scored a few more goals, I’ve had quite a few chances. But if you’d have told me before the transfer this is what I’d be on, the amount of goals and assists and wins, I’d have taken that.”
Kane scored a hat-trick and got two assists in Munich’s romp over Bochum (Sven Hoope/AP)
Football in Germany is well suited to longevity, with a winter break each season and one less cup competition to contend with than English football. Many players consider retirement from international duty to prolong their club careers, but in that sense it is almost the opposite with Kane. “I will probably keep [playing for England] until I’m not picked anymore, and then accept that and take it on the chin,” he says.
Might he lead England into a home Euros in 2028? “Who knows? Hopefully, I’m aiming to still be around by then. I feel as good as I’ve ever felt before and I’d like to think my career will go to my late thirties, at least.”
Kane is a friend and admirer of Tom Brady, the oldest player to win the NFL’s MVP award, aged 40. As a teenager struggling on loan at Leicester City, Kane sat alone in a rented flat wondering how he was ever going to make it at Spurs when he couldn’t even get a game in the Championship. There he came across a documentary about Brady on YouTube, charting the quarterback’s rise from obscurity, and he felt inspired to chase his own dream.
A decade on, Kane is back where it all started, spending plenty of time alone again, albeit in slightly smarter accommodation. It is a symptom of his utter determination to stay at the top of the game, and to prove he belongs. And perhaps what captures Kane’s unique mindset, what marks him out as one of England’s greatest ever footballers, is that he is never finished.
“I definitely think there are levels [to reach],” he says. “Being at Bayern Munich now, I can keep pushing myself to see how good I can get.”
To Kane, the second half has only just begun.
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