England’s Irish brigade have emotional ties that bind

Kane's, Rice's and Grealish’s Irish and English credentials have equal validity

England captain Harry Kane, Jordan Pickford, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips and Jack Grealish  prior to the  Group D match against  the Czech Republic. Photograph:  Neil Hall/Getty

England captain Harry Kane, Jordan Pickford, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips and Jack Grealish prior to the Group D match against the Czech Republic. Photograph: Neil Hall/Getty

Appearances can be deceptive. Harry Kane looks so thoroughly English that they should really issue him with a pair of Spitfire pilot’s goggles and a white scarf to wear when he cuts through the air for one of those diving headers. But for those of us watching in Ireland, it’s impossible to forget that the dark spirit of Connemara beats somewhere beneath those three lions on his shirt.

Kane is 27 years old and since his emergence as England’s generational striker, the latest in the line of clean-cut heroes led by Lineker and Shearer and Greaves and Hurst, he has always been relaxed about his Irish roots. Just last month he happily obliged a social media request to wish the students in Clifden community school the best in their Leaving Cert.

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