England depart for World Cup in ‘Rain Bow’ jet as captain Harry Kane says ‘let’s bring the trophy home’

England depart for World Cup in ‘Rain Bow’ jet as captain Harry Kane says ‘let’s bring the trophy home’

England’s World Cup squad left for Qatar this morning, with captain Harry Kane saying they are aiming to return home with the trophy this Christmas.

Gareth Southgate's 26 players flew at 10am on Virgin Atlantic's Gay Pride jet, named 'Rain Bow', and were due to arrive in Doha at 8pm local time, before travelling south to their Al Wakrah training base.

The choice of plane, which features a picture of 'Oscar', a cartoon figure holding a Union Jack flag and wearing rainbow-coloured trainers, is a show of defiance towards the host nation, where same-sex relationships are outlawed.

The squad met at St George's Park, England's Midlands training base, yesterday morning and were presented with their shirts by FA President Prince William.

Prince William hands out England’s World Cup shirts to squad

(The FA via Getty Images)
(The FA via Getty Images)
Gareth Southgate (The FA via Getty Images)
Gareth Southgate (The FA via Getty Images)
Jack Grealish (The FA via Getty Images)
Jack Grealish (The FA via Getty Images)
Harry Kane (AP)
Harry Kane (AP)
Jude Bellingham (The FA via Getty Images)
Jude Bellingham (The FA via Getty Images)
Bukayo Saka (The FA via Getty Images)
Bukayo Saka (The FA via Getty Images)
Aaron Ramsdale (The FA via Getty Images)
Aaron Ramsdale (The FA via Getty Images)
Marcus Rashford (The FA via Getty Images)
Marcus Rashford (The FA via Getty Images)
Harry Maguire (The FA via Getty Images)
Harry Maguire (The FA via Getty Images)
Raheem Sterling (The FA via Getty Images)
Raheem Sterling (The FA via Getty Images)
Phil Foden (The FA via Getty Images)
Phil Foden (The FA via Getty Images)

They left this morning with a clean bill of health following medical checks and a light recovery session yesterday, with both James Maddison and Raheem Sterling passed fit, despite the former limping out of Leicester's win over West Ham on Saturday and Sterling missing Chelsea's defeat to Newcastle through illness.

Kane, who will wear No9, won the Golden Boot as England finished fourth in Russia in 2018 and, asked if he was aiming for another, he said: "It is not the main thing I am going for, but I know that if I do end up with the Golden Boot it'll definitely be good for the team.

"The main aim is bring the trophy home and win the whole tournament. If I get the Golden Boot along the way, that'll be a bonus. In 2018 it was an incredible experience, one of my favourite times playing football and, hopefully, there can be more of the same."

England players boarding the plane. (PA)
England players boarding the plane. (PA)

Southgate's squad are set for their first proper training session tomorrow, just five days before their opening group game against Iran on Monday.

The manager and his players are set to discuss whether to take the knee at the finals, with Southgate also saying he would defy FIFA's diktat to "focus on football" and not answer questions about the many controversies around hosts Qatar.

Callum Wilson, who is set to be Kane's understudy at the finals, says the squad want to make history this winter.

Mason Mount is heading to Qatar. (@England)
Mason Mount is heading to Qatar. (@England)

"I'm over the moon," said the Newcastle forward. "Life is all about timing. I have had three years away. The pinnacle of my career was probably scoring on my debut for England. It was a moment that I'll never forget, but also a moment I want to add to.

"Now, going to a World Cup, there are great opportunities there in front of us as players to go and make history. I think for us that is the drive and motivation. Support from back home is massive, because for us as players, we were all once those people who were supporting the England team from afar, in the social clubs, in the streets, everyone having parties with their flags.

"They are the memories. Unfortunately, we won't get to be a part of them, but we will hopefully be creating them."