When England held an open training session at the Ernst Abbe Sportfeld in Jena last week, a football version of Beatlemania swept through the stands. Some have already coined a term for it. They are calling it Kania.

As soon as the England captain emerged from the tunnel, kids in the stands, who were mostly wearing the shirts of Carl Zeiss Jena and another local side, Rot-Weiss Erfurt, began yelling his name, hanging over the advertising hoardings and begging for autographs and selfies.

They kept it up for an hour, with barely a pause. And when the session was over, Kane walked dutifully over to them and signed their books and flags and had his picture taken with them. I watched some of them leaving with their parents. They were agog with excitement.

In some regards, we have started to take Kane for granted in recent years. So much attention has, rightly, been lavished on the extravagant talents of Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden, in particular, that Kane’s importance to the England side he skippers is often understated.

But to see the way that he is deified in Germany, after a stellar individual debut season for Bayern Munich in which he scored 44 goals in 45 appearances in the Bundesliga and the Champions League, has been a reminder that he remains England’s most dangerous weapon.

We have started to take Harry Kane (pictured) for granted in recent years – his importance to England is so understated 

The striker was worshipped during his time at Tottenham, but his move to Bayern Munich has taken his profile to new levels

The striker was worshipped during his time at Tottenham, but his move to Bayern Munich has taken his profile to new levels

He was worshipped at Tottenham, too, of course, but it is not denigrating the north London side to say that Kane’s move to Bayern at the start of last season has taken his worldwide profile to new levels and turned him into a superstar.

German fans like his humility, too. They like his lack of artifice and his common touch. His Bayern team-mate, Jamal Musiala, said in an interview recently that Kane’s favourite thing to eat in his adopted homeland was a pretzel. That was well received, too. It hinted at simple tastes and a lack of affectation.

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Kane acknowledged much of that himself when he spoke on Saturday ahead of England’s match against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen this evening, their opening game of this European Championship, and suggested that his popularity here could only help England’s cause.

What a lovely irony that is: the Germans cheering on an Englishman after all the rivalry that has existed — and still exists — between the two countries down the years. For some Germans, Kane has turned England into their second favourite team at this tournament.

‘The support I have had ever since I arrived in Munich and Germany in general has been incredible,’ Kane said as England prepared to depart for Gelsenkirchen. ‘Even going to away games in the Bundesliga, the support that I get from opposition fans is at an amazing level.

The Bayern forward was crowned the Bundesliga's top goal scorer this season, with a whopping 36 goals

The Bayern forward was crowned the Bundesliga’s top goal scorer this season, with a whopping 36 goals 

‘It has made me feel really appreciated. I spent my whole career in the Premier League and, of course, there were a lot of Tottenham fans who enjoyed my work, but it’s been nice to show what I can do on a European level.

‘I played in the Champions League before but to do it in another league, to do it in front of another set of fans in a different country, has helped me as a player and has helped my profile as a player, too.

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‘It is going to be a tournament I should enjoy because I am going to have support not only from the England fans but from the German fans as well, which I will really appreciate and hopefully that will build my confidence and give me even more motivation.’ Kane spoke like a man brimming with eager anticipation.

He is 30-years-old and said he felt he was entering the peak years of a career that has already been remarkable for its consistently prolific scoring.

Kane predicted before the 2018 World Cup that he would finish as top scorer and came good on that promise. He will be up against forwards like Musiala and Kai Havertz, who both got off to scoring starts for Germany on Friday, and Kylian Mbappe. No one should ever write off Cristiano Ronaldo, either, but Kane was bullish about his prospects here.

‘I know what I am capable of,’ he said. ‘I know what I have done year after year. There is no reason why I can’t be the top scorer at this tournament. If we do well, I expect myself to be up there. To be scoring goals means I will be helping the team.

Kane hopes to win the Golden Boot, but he will be up against his team-mate Jamal Musiala

Kane hopes to win the Golden Boot, but he will be up against his team-mate Jamal Musiala

Musiala (front) opened his goal account during Germany's 5-1 victory vs Scotland on Friday

Musiala (front) opened his goal account during Germany’s 5-1 victory vs Scotland on Friday

Kane (left) clinched the Golden Boot at the 2018 World Cup, but believes he has 'evolved' since that tournament

Kane (left) clinched the Golden Boot at the 2018 World Cup, but believes he has ‘evolved’ since that tournament

‘That confidence is still there. Am I a different player from that World Cup in Russia? You have seen my game evolve, especially over the last four years, in terms of how I like to drop and get involved and bring others into play. My experience on the pitch, in different formations and playing different roles in teams, has helped me understand the game even better. That is why I said earlier about being at my peak.

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‘It is not just my physical peak. In terms of my mental peak, in terms of understanding the game and tactics. Understanding where spaces are or where to run, All that has got better and better as I have played more and more games.

‘I am in a really comfortable place in my career in terms of what I am capable of, but as always in these tournaments I will be judged on goals and how many I get, so hopefully I will get a few.’

The last time England played in Gelsenkirchen their talisman, Wayne Rooney, was sent off for stamping on Ricardo Carvalho during a quarter-final elimination at the hands of Portugal, but Kane’s temperament is another reason why England have always been able to rely on him.

He took over from Rooney some time ago as the national team’s top scorer and now has 63 goals in 91 games. He is 10 clear of the former Manchester United star already and, injuries permitting, will soon join the exalted ranks of players to have won 100 caps for England.

Wayne Rooney (centre) was sent off for stamping on Ricardo Carvalho (bottom) the last time England played in Gelsenkirchen

Wayne Rooney (centre) was sent off for stamping on Ricardo Carvalho (bottom) the last time England played in Gelsenkirchen

Kane took over Rooney some time ago and has 10 more international goals for England than the ex-Man United star

Kane took over Rooney some time ago and has 10 more international goals for England than the ex-Man United star

But if Kane can encourage Germany to cheer for him then nothing is surely beyond the captain

But if Kane can encourage Germany to cheer for him then nothing is surely beyond the captain

It all adds to the feeling that he will go into these Euros better equipped than ever to lead England’s attempt at winning their first major trophy for 58 years. Kane never shouts about anything, but he is exuding a quiet contentment and an easy confidence.

‘From an outside point of view,’ he said, ‘I’m probably respected more as one of the top strikers in the world now. When you’re at a club like Bayern Munich, that comes if you have a great season. It’s similar to Real Madrid, Barcelona and all the very top, top clubs.

‘So from that point of view, maybe I have a different kind of aura. But personally, nothing’s really changed in how I prepare, how I go into games, and my confidence is still the same as it was throughout my career. Maybe you get looked at in a different light, which is good for me, because it raises my profile and helps me to really compete to be one of the best players in the world.’

If Kania really can encourage Germany fans to cheer for their old enemy in Gelsenkirchen today, and for the rest of the tournament, then nothing is beyond the England captain.

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