It might sound ridiculous now, but even when Harry Kane smashed through the 30 goal barrier at the end of last season, I wasn’t sold on him. I don’t know what it was in particular, but every time I watched him play, I couldn’t really identify any outstanding attributes. I got the feeling he was having the mother of all hot streaks, where everything he hit went in, a bit like Papiss Cisse when he had that incredible season for Newcastle. It just didn’t feel right and I wasn’t alone in feeling that way.
Kane looks like he might have stumbled off the set of Made in Chelsea or The Apprentice with his upper class sweeping blonde barnet and royal featureful face. Maybe it was my healthy anti-establishment streak that made me want to stand alone to beat back the waves of media praise washing over a kid who I thought deserved little more than a complimentary nod in his direction. The rhetoric was getting to me and suddenly Kane’s face was everywhere. It felt like his price tag was rising by the minute too. “£50m for Harry f*cking Kane? Come off it”.
It looked to me as though guilt-edged chances were falling to him luckily rather than being the result of Kane’s clever movement or intelligent positioning. His debut goal for England, scoring with his first touch, typified the “it’s all coming up Millhouse” kind of perception, at least on my part.
So as you can imagine, when Kane started this season a little sluggishly, I was smugly preparing my I told-you-so routine. I’m not saying I wanted to see Kane fail, I just wanted there to be justification for the praise and real evidence of the emergence of the next big “thing”.
We all know the British sports media’s only raison d’être is to chuck their young players into the hype machine, attaching undeserved reputations on unfledged shoulders, eventually leading to unrealistic expectations and crushed confidence. I thought Kane was nailed on to be that machine’s latest victim. It seemed fitting that he played for Spurs, a club that has often provided young players who have flattered to deceive. The pattern had been established, all Kane had to do was follow the tracks laid by David Bentley, Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend.
But instead of wilting like the shrinking violets before him, Kane has emerged from his less than stellar early season form and that is what has prompted me to re-evaluate my opinion of him (I’m sure he will be thrilled to bits to hear that). It’s easy to forget that Kane turned just 22 over the summer. To manage enormous expectations and remain focused and driven enough to work through a bad patch, shows enormous maturity – it also shows tremendous character. If I was looking for outstanding attributes, Kane had showed me a major one.
And maybe that positive trait was enough to shake the rest of the negativity from my assessment. Suddenly I’m seeing the well rounded modern forward described with such relentless vigour in the press. Kane works tirelessly for his team mates, he is quick, strong, athletic, good in the air, can finish with both feet, can see a pass and he influences games consistently.
Kane is also teetotaller, which is strange for a fella with Irish roots (his father is from Galway), but his decision to stay alcohol free shows the kind of dedication to his profession that other young players seem to lack. Kane prefers to hit the golf course and walk his dogs instead of partying in nightclubs. He must be a manager’s dream.
He has his head screwed on, his priorities are in order and these things make a big difference.
His rise to stardom has been nothing short of meteoric and maybe watching less impressive younger versions of Harry Kane had left a difficult to shift pre-conceived opinion about him lodged in my brain. Stupid I know, to deduce anything too concrete about a young kid out on loan, but when I watched Kane play for Norwich and Leicester during the 2012/13 season, he showed nothing to suggest he would blossom in to the England international striker we see today.
It’s also refreshing to see Kane nailing his Tottenham colours firmly to the mast. Having been at Spurs since the age of 11, Kane has been quoted as saying he wants to spend his entire career at the Lane and establish himself as a Tottenham legend. Although, if the trajectory of his career continues along this same vertical vector, it seems inevitable that Kane will at some stage pine for a Champions League stage.
So I might be a late arrival, but I’m now officially in the “Kane is a superstar” camp. It’s also one of those rare occasions where I’m delighted to have been proven completely wrong. I’m sure it won’t be the last time. “£50m for Harry f*cking Kane? Yeah, seems about right”.