FIFA Men's World Cup
Harry Kane gets support from David Beckham ahead of England-France
FIFA Men's World Cup

Harry Kane gets support from David Beckham ahead of England-France

Updated Dec. 6, 2022 8:14 p.m. ET

DOHA, Qatar — Everyone in England feels like they know Harry Kane — but there aren't many people who know what it feels like to be him. One of them, on some level at least, is David Beckham.

On Saturday, the England national team will come face-to-face with destiny, in a monumental World Cup quarterfinal clash with France (2 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports App) that shapes up as one of the tournament's most star-studded matches.

In many ways, it will serve as a referendum on this era of Three Lions talent, a glittering generation of elite players who have reached a World Cup semifinal and a European Championship final, but have yet to end their country's painful 56-year wait for a major men's trophy.

Can Harry Kane lead England past France?

The "FIFA World Cup Tonight" crew previews the quarterfinal matchup and asks whether England can defeat the defending champs.

With Kane serving as captain, a figurehead and arguably, one of the most popular men in the country, head coach Gareth Southgate wanted to be sure his leader was not just focused on supporting his England colleagues, but was getting the right kind of mentorship himself.

To achieve that, in came Beckham for a visit.

"(Beckham) was here the other day, so we had a good chat," Kane told the Lions' Den webcast. "He was my biggest idol growing up. He was probably one of our best captains."

Nearly a decade after his playing retirement, Beckham remains as recognizable as ever. He is currently the owner of Inter Miami in Major League Soccer and has his eye on signing Lionel Messi. To all but the youngest members of this England squad, Beckham is a player they grew up watching, and admiring, having won an array of prizes with Manchester United and Real Madrid, and making three major quarterfinals with England.

Under then-coach Sven Goran Eriksson, England lost in the last eight of the 2002 and 2006 World Cups and the 2004 Euros, two of those exits coming on penalty kicks against a Portugal squad containing a young Cristiano Ronaldo.

Beckham wore the captain's armband proudly but has often spoken of his disappointment that none of those England squads were able to make the breakthrough. He is an avowed patriot, and even lined up alongside members of the public for 13 hours to pay his respect to Queen Elizabeth II after the monarch's death in September.

Can England beat the champs?

Alexi Lalas and David Mosse debate whether Gareth Southgate and England can challenge France in Saturday's quarterfinal.

Even though Beckham has no official capacity with Southgate's squad, his desire for England to do well remains undimmed.

"I probably don't ask questions about games or how it felt, it's more just getting to know his experiences and how he feels about our team and what he sees in our team," Kane added. "He's really excited for his national side. He loves watching us play. 

"It's great to have support from ex-players. They know how it means to represent the country. They are all part of the team."

The vibes from this current incarnation of the England squad are resoundingly positive. The often-frosty relationship between the national media and the players has thawed and there is a general sense of buoyancy after a fine performance in Group B – two wins and a 0-0 tie with the United States — then a convincing 3-0 victory over Senegal in the round of 16.

The only shadow cast has been the ugly situation surrounding winger Raheem Sterling, who understandably returned home to be with his young family after their home was burglarized by armed invaders. It is unknown if, or when, he will return to the team.

Harry Kane shifts into overdrive

Harry Kane's goal late in the first half helped England cruised past Senegal in the round of 16.

While France is the defending champion and the threat of Kylian Mbappe and his five goals so far loom large, Kane is more concerned about his players being in the right frame of mind. Whichever manages the psychological component best, he says, will go all the way.

"We've got three more games to go if we want to win the World Cup," Kane added. "We're recovering really well, preparing well, and I think it's whoever handles that well is going to be champions of the world. 

"We know what it takes. We've been there before in 2018. We're facing a really good team on Saturday, but the boys are feeling really good, and we want to carry that on.

"We've had two really good tournaments, and now we want to go all the way. It's great to have that pride and the fans want to push us on to achieve what we want. These guys are fearless, they want to go out and express themselves. I feel like we have a great mix of experience and youth. When you look at the teams which have won tournaments before that's what they had."

Even in Kane's words it is possible to see a mentality shift. There has so often been a trepidation about England squads at major tournaments, a timidity, a fear of even speaking about the potential of winning the event.

This England team believes and though it will be an underdog this weekend, it doesn't necessarily see why it should act like one.

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Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.


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