‘Brutal’ Marines training helped Gareth Southgate pick Harry Kane as captain

By Sports Desk September 09, 2023

The Royal Marines told England boss Gareth Southgate that Harry Kane would make the perfect captain, the striker has revealed.

The Bayern Munich player heads back to Scotland for a friendly at Hampden Park, where he first skippered the national team, on Tuesday.

Six years ago Southgate took his squad for a surprise weekend at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines in Devon.

They camped, hiked and were dunked in the feared sheep dip as the Marines tested their physical and mental strength during a boding exercise which helped Southgate decide his skipper.

A few days later, Kane was handed the armband and scored a last-gasp leveller in the 2-2 draw in Glasgow.

“I remember that trip very clearly,” he said. “We had a fantastic time and 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. Things like that.

“I think that might have helped in me becoming captain. It was a fantastic few days. Some great memories that will be with me forever.

“It helped the whole squad get to know each other. We had no phones for three days, we were camping in the woods. That helped us, not just as a team. It helped us become closer.

“We did a camping thing where we learned to put up our own tents and had the rations the Marine guys have when they’re going to war.

“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, though stones and the sheep dip.

“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 – which was another hour on the road. That was probably the hardest part, it was mentally tough.

“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. It was just brutal.”

Kane returns to Hampden as England’s record-breaking skipper with 58 goals in 84 caps.

Back in 2017, Kane scored just his sixth international goal with a close-range volley from Raheem Sterling’s inch-perfect pass and remembers the World Cup qualifying draw well.

“First of all I was extremely proud to be leading the boys out and I thought it was an amazing atmosphere, even from the national anthems,” said the 30-year-old.

“The noise at Hampden Park is still one of the best atmosphere’s I’ve been a part of. The game was OK. 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.

“That isn’t the most ideal situation – especially when it’s your first game as captain, so it was nice to score in the last minute.

“To be honest, I don’t think I realised how important the goal was until after the game, then I heard all the talk around it. For me, not to lose my first game as captain was important and it’s a nice memory.”

Kane has linked up with England for the first time since his £100million move from Tottenham to Bayern.

He has scored three goals in his first three starts and slotted into life in Germany, including a club photoshoot while dressed in Lederhosen and posing with fake beer.

He said: “It was alright actually. The shorts were a bit heavier than I thought. It wasn’t even real beer – it was just to look good.

“We have a day when all the players and staff go to Oktoberfest. I don’t know when that will be, but I’ve heard it’s really good.”

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