'The best in the world': Inside the school where Harry Kane has left a legacy

Excitement builds ahead of England's group stage clash with Denmark, ITV News' Graham Stothard reports

Words by Olivia Mustafa, ITV News Producer

Excitement has been mounting across the country for England's Euros clash with Denmark on Thursday afternoon.

With stars such as Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden set to take to the pitch, fans are hoping the team will work their magic to secure the team a place in the knockout stages.

But for a school in Essex, there's only one name on everyone's lips.

England captain and the country's all-time highest goal scorer Harry Kane attended Chingford Foundation School (CFS) - and he has left a legacy cherished by students and teachers alike.

“He’s a huge inspiration, not only to me but to every student here at CFS," Maya, a 15-year-old student at the school, told ITV News.

"Every time we step onto the pitch to play football, all the students are inspired to demonstrate the qualities that Harry displays on and off the pitch, such as his strength, his leadership and his commitment to the sport."

For 15-year-old Maya, Harry Kane is an inspiration

Maya is a keen footballer regularly playing at the school, and said football fever is rife among the student body.

"The unity you feel when you’re playing with your team, that togetherness you feel, and that sense of community lifts you up as a player. It’s something people look forward to every day,” she said.

Harry Kane is not the only famous player to have walked the hallways of CFS. Before he shot to stardom, David Beckham was the school's big name - and Derby County striker Dwight Gayle also attended.

"This school is lucky," Mark Leadon, who was head of PE at the school whilst Harry Kane was a student, said.

He explained that CFS' location, close to Tottenham, Arsenal, West Ham and Leyton Orient, is partially behind its sporting success.

For Quin, a year 10 student and right winger for Leyton Orient FC, the legacies of players who have passed through makes stepping onto its pitch a privilege.

“Sometimes there are moments where you sit back and think - you’ve got players that come and go, and they play for your school.

"I think that just gives you the enthusiasm you could go and do that as well," he added.

But Harry Kane's career has not always been rosy. He was rejected from Arsenal's academy at just eight years old, but later described it as "the best thing that's ever happened to me".

A signed shirt in one of the school's hallways. Credit: ITV News

This is a journey CFS students have been all too aware of.

Kyri Hutchins, a 15-year-old centre attack and midfielder for Arsenal, described Kane as one of the "best in the world" in terms of scoring, but she also admires his mentality.

She said: "He inspires me in different ways to what other people would say because of his journey.

"It's definitely because of the fact he’s come through the school but it's because of the rejection he’s had as well, being released from clubs and put out on loan at an early stage. It’s crazy, the development he’s been through."

Harry Kane is not only revered at CFS for his achievements on the pitch, but his qualities shown off-pitch, too.

Harry Kane played on the school's team, managed at the time by Dennis McElligot.

Dennis McElligot teaches English and PE at CFS, and he managed the school's football team when Kane was a pupil.

He described him as well behaved, studious, polite and humble - but said when it came to football, something else shone through.

"His will to win was there for everyone to see. He had an edge about his football that wasn’t actually in the rest of his personality," Mr McElligot said.

“He had self confidence, self belief like you wouldn’t believe. In a boy who was humble in his personality, that was really something to see.” 

England beat Serbia 1-0 thanks to a Jude Bellingham goal Credit: Adam Davy/PA

England's clash with Denmark in their second Group C game kicks off at 5pm UK time on Thursday.

The men's side could come top of the group if Serbia draw with Slovenia.

England secured a 1-0 victory over Serbia earlier on Sunday thanks to Jude Bellingham's early header.

The win was hard fought, however, with England's control wavering towards the end of the match.

Despite criticism of their performance in Sunday's game, Arsenal player Bukayo Saka has insisted talent on the England side - including that of Jude Bellingham - means the sky is the limit.

“Everything is possible with that,” he told ITV Sport, when asked what England can achieve with Saka, Bellingham, Phil Foden and Harry Kane playing together.

“What he has done this season has been special so I was a bit taken aback, 20 years old going to Real Madrid and doing what he has done, it is unbelievable but it is no surprise when you know him as a person.”

Asked to describe Bellingham in one word, Saka replied: “Wow!”

As the country gears up for the match, it will be Harry Kane who the staff and students of CFS will have their eyes on.

When it came to what he'd say to Kane ahead of the match Quin said: “Good luck, no matter what happens tonight just carry on going.

"Remember the moment might happen, but it’s about what you do after."

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