Veterans

England Captain Harry Kane Becomes Ambassador For Veterans' Charity

The footballer said he was "thrilled" to become an ambassador for the Royal British Legion Industries’ Tommy Club initiative.

England captain Harry Kane is encouraging the public to buy a silhouette of a football-playing British soldier in a nod to the Christmas truce of 1914.

Kane said he was "thrilled" to become an ambassador for the Tommy Club, an initiative run by the Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI) to enable members of the public to give their support.

The Tottenham Hotspur striker and Lord Richard Dannatt, the former head of the Army, are backing the campaign which sees the famous Tommy figure standing with a football under his foot.

"RBLI have supported military veterans for more than 100 years and I know the great work they do employing ex-servicemen and women and helping them overcome significant challenges," Kane said.

"I encourage people to get involved and support the Tommy Club as every new champion makes a difference."

Tommy figures are made by veterans working for the RBLI and were first sold in 2018 to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War.

Updated versions were also made this year to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

The new figure, called Tommy United, remembers the 1914 Christmas truce which saw British and German soldiers stop fighting and meet in no man’s land, with some kicking a football about.

Lord Dannatt said "soldiers, be they British or German, are just people".

"I think the fact that they were able to connect with each other, and the stories are well known – was it them on Christmas Eve, both sides singing Silent Night and hearing it drifting across no man's land – that started a conversation, so that they felt bold enough perhaps on the first light of Christmas Day or during the course of the day to just talk man to man, human to human?," Lord Dannatt said.

"That's quite a powerful image about human nature."

Tim Brown, who served in the Army between 1987 and 2010, is one of the veterans working on the Tommies.

The story of the 1914 truce has an extra resonance for him because of something he found in his great uncle’s war diary from three years later.

"On Boxing Day he played football with 128 Siege Battery and the major played, apparently," he said. "They lost 3-1.

"So he didn't play football with the Germans on Christmas Day or Boxing Day, but they played a match themselves."

Mr Brown believes sport has the power to unite people and the Christmas Day truce still resonates today because it is "a story of forgiveness and coming together".

"Football is and always has been a common language between different nations and someone happened to have a ball, it overcame boundaries," he said.

"It's just a shame it didn't carry on longer." 

Cover image: Harry Kane in action for England during a  UEFA Nations League match at Wembley last month (Picture: PA).