Over the last couple of seasons Harry Winks has established himself as a regular in the Tottenham line-up, while his performances in an England shirt will certainly give Gareth Southgate something to think about ahead of his EURO 2020 squad selection. And from the very beginning he’s had an ongoing affinity for the Predator, something that continues to this day.

Most of us remember our first boots. For Winks, the memory of his first boot is intrinsically linked to his earliest memories of playing the game. It’s a relationship that has developed over the years in tandem with his career, to the point where he’s now one of the prime Predator players in the Premier League, exemplified by his recent use of the Predator Mania 19.1. So with the release of the next generation Predator 20+ Mutator we caught up with the midfielder to talk about both his footballing journey so far and his love affair with the iconic silo.

Harry, the Predator has a huge connection with so many football fans. Can you remember your first boots as a kid, did you have that kind of an attachment?

My first boots as a kid were Predators, the ones with the tongue, the red and black ones, I think they were the ones that Zidane wore. I can’t remember the exact name of them but that was my first ever boot. Then from the age of about five onwards I’ve been pretty much in Predators and adidas.

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How far did you want to stretch down that tongue?

I went through different spells. I went through the spell where I stretched it all the way, then where you wear it really nice and tight. I mixed it up.

Do you think the Predator is quite unique in the sense that if you saw one again the memories that it’d bring back for you?

Yeah, for me it brings back my first-ever game, even though it was Sunday league level. Just running out on the pitch, my Dad having bought me my first-ever pair of boots. Honestly though, Predators were my first-ever pair, so when I see them or photos of them from the past it brings back memories of my first-ever childhood match and playing for the first time.

How would you compare football from when the Predator first came out to what it is now?

It’s hard to say, because I obviously wasn’t playing back then. But watching it on TV, it’s progressed a lot. The game’s a lot faster, a lot more physical, and a lot more tactical and technical. But when you look back at great players like Beckham and Zidane, if they were to play now they’d probably still be up there with the best players in the world. They’d probably be even better than what they were back in their day.

You’ve got a decent number of appearances under your belt now. Do you still feel like a youngster in the squad, or has that started to wear off now?

No, I feel like a veteran! No, I don’t feel like a youngster anymore. I’ve played quite a lot of games for Tottenham now, which is a dream for me. To play over 100 games for the club is something I always wanted to do, so to say I’ve done that is, for me, a dream come true. But I don’t feel like a young player anymore. I’m 23 now and I’m getting on a bit and I feel like I’m becoming a key member of the squad and it’s important that I continue to work hard to stay there.

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Predators were my first-ever pair of boots, so when I see photos of them from the past it brings back memories of my first-ever childhood match and playing for the first time"

It’s been a mad few years and you’re still young really. Do you feel that you’ve had to grow up quite quickly in that sense?

Of course, yeah. When you move into the first team you’re surrounded by men of different ages and when you go in at 17 or 18 you’ve got to mature quickly, you’ve got to adapt quickly, especially under our manager. He wants leaders, he wants men, he wants people who are going to go out and fight and when I first came into the team it was about learning that. Now I think I’ve got a grasp of how that works.

The journey you’ve been on, you’ve had some amazing experiences already. What’s it like when you head out on to the pitch on a Champions League night and you first hear that music?

I remember the first time I started in the Champions League was Monaco away and it was incredible. You get goosebumps just hearing that music. In the starting lineup it was a bit surreal. You obviously hear it on telly or in the stands, but to actually be on the pitch about to play, it was incredible. Of course when we got to the final, hearing it was even better. Unfortunately the result didn’t go our way.

It must’ve been an amazing life experience. We’ve all experienced it as fans, but out on the pitch it must be completely different…

Yeah, it’s every players dream to play in the Champions League, and to hear that music up close and personal, especially when you’re about to play… it’s a special competition and I’m very thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to play in it.

How hungry does the disappointment of last season make you?

Coming so close to winning the Champions League, being within touching distance and then to lose, it’s one of the most difficult experiences as a player because every player wants to win the Champions League and to get that close, it was difficult. This year we’ve said to ourselves that we want to do everything that we can to get back there again and to win it like Liverpool did a couple of seasons ago when they got to the final and lost. So it’s something that’s on our minds, but we realise the challenge and just how hard a task it is, but it’s something that we’re all working to try and do.

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Moving into the new stadium, how impressive is it?

It’s an incredible stadium. It’s up there as one of – if not the – best in Europe. The club have done amazingly well to build such an amazing stadium. It’s really taken Tottenham to a new level. To play there, especially on Champions League nights under the floodlights, it’s amazing. It’s an incredible stadium and I’m lucky to have played in both White Hart Lane and the new stadium.

From a fans perspective, how much do you miss White Hart Lane?

It was a special stadium. I made my debut in there and it was one of those places that can be a daunting place to go if you’re an opposition player. We had some great times there, but the club’s moved forward and part of that process was expanding the stadium and having a bigger club and infrastructure and it’s worked out really well.

Did you nick anything as a memento?

I didn’t, no. I was planning on taking a little bit of grass or a seat or something, but I didn’t manage to get hold of anything.

What’s it like breaking through on the international scene with, effectively, your mates?

Again, it’s an amazing thing to be able to play for your country and to go through all the levels. To play with some of the players that I’ve played with from under-17 level all the way up is obviously special as well. To share those games and those days with my friends is amazing. Hopefully it can continue and hopefully I can get a lot more caps for England.

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I want to play for England and I want to start in the Euros, that is my ambition and that is my aim and I believe I’m capable of doing that"

How would you describe the last few years and the journey that you’ve been on?

It’s been an incredible journey. It’s been something that I’ve absolutely loved. It’s been up and down; I’ve had some really difficult times and some incredible highs as well, but I suppose that’s just football. There will be times when you get injured and you’re really low and you don’t play, and you get times when you score and you win massive games and you’re on a high again. But that’s the beauty of football, you know. It’s that rollercoaster. You never know what’s coming next.

Do you feel like you’re quite well equipped to help other young players or other players who haven’t had the experiences that you’ve had?

Yeah, whenever there’s young players training with us or travelling with us I try my best to pass on that experience because I’ve been there and I know how difficult it is to travel and to be left out of the squad and to not play, to work hard in training and not get opportunities, but it’s part and parcel of the process. Everyone has to go through it and like I said, if there’s young players training with us or travelling with us I’ll pass on those experiences as much as I can.

It’s early days, but how much do you set your sights on the summer and playing at the Euros with some of the games being in England?

Of course I want to play for England and I want to start and I want to play in the Euros, that is my ambition and that is my aim. I believe I’m capable of doing that and I believe I’m good enough to do that. But it’s a long season, there’s a long way to go, there’s a lot more to prove before I get to that stage. But it’s definitely something I’ve got my sights on.

You've against the best players in the world on the international stage and in the Champions League. Does that give you the confidence to know that you can reach the standards that you’re aiming for?

Yeah. I’ve played against some of the best players in the world and some of the best teams in the world, especially in the Champions League. To come away from some of these games – some we’ve won and some we’ve come away with good results, like a draw away – to go into these massive games and to perform and do well, it gives you confidence. That’s something that I want to continue to do, both at club level and at international level.

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Pick up the adidas Predator 20+ Mutator at prodirectsoccer.com