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Harry Kane is a phenomenon. Having emerged from relative football anonymity with an incredible 21 goals during an incredible 2014/15 season, which also saw him fast-tracked into the England senior setup, fans at Tottenham Hotspur quickly dubbed him the greatest striker to grace the club since Gary Lineker. But following a difficult start to the campaign, doubters away from White Hart Lane labelled the 22-year-old nothing more than a one-season wonder, stating that he’d never replicate those scoring feats ever again.
With a quarter of the season gone, Kane was stuck on a solitary one goal. On the fact of it, suggestions that he had simply ridden a wave of euphoria in the predeceasing campaign appeared to be somewhat vindicated. However, a hat-trick against Bournemouth at the end of October would kick Kane’s season into overdrive. Fast-forward to mid-April, and the 6ft 2in hasn’t only matched last season’s tally; he’s obliterated it with emphatic style. A return of 23 goals in his last 25 games confirms sees him established as the odds-on favourite to clinch the Golden Boot and, if Leicester City slip up, the season could end with the ultimate prize of all. Whatever happens regarding the title race, though, Kane is now unquestionably England’s top goalscoring talent.
Whilst most football fans have been caught up in the fairytale of Jamie Vardy and Leicester, the Spurs talisman has set about writing his own incredible story with an equally meteoric rise to the top. It might not capture the imagination of Hollywood executives quite like a rags to riches journey from non-league football to England star, but it shouldn’t detract from Kane’s own mind-blowing voyage. It’s easy to forget, but this is a player that began the Mauricio Pochettino era with just three Premier League strikes to his name.
Likewise, loan spells at Leyton Orient, Millwall and Leicester had only brought limited returns whilst a short stay at Norwich had offered virtually nothing towards his development. That’s not to suggest Kane was unheralded as a player – he was, after all, a regular in England’s youth sides and earmarked as a potential star of the future. Nevertheless, even the most ardent Spurs fan wouldn’t have forecast the rapid rate of the striker’s rise to the summit. Incredibly, though, another two goals from the last four matches would see him reach the half-century of Premier League strikes before his 23rd birthday.
At its core, football is a beautifully simple game and making the net bulge is the ultimate aim. For that reason alone, Kane’s statistics should stand shine light on his obvious quality. Perhaps an even greater asset than his ability to take chances in front of goal, however, is his ability to grab opportunities for a place on the pitch.
In hindsight it seems laughable to think it was ever a contest but when Pochettino first arrived, Roberto Soldado was considered the main man. Kane had started to force his face into the first team picture under former boss Tim Sherwood, earning 10 league appearances during the 2013/14 campaign, yet the Englishman was still very much second fiddle at the start of last term. Squad rotation would give the young striker a chance in the Europa League, though, and boy did he take it. Rather than settling for sporadic domestic starts interspersed by continental action, Kane used it as a platform to force himself into the frame.
As the club’s motto proudly reads at White Hart Lane, ‘to dare is to do’, and the combination of Kane’s triumphs and Soldado’s struggles would soon lead to increased trust being placed in the youngster. Still, Kane was still an alternative rather than a first-choice. That was until he notched his first league goal under Pochettino with a last-gasp winner after coming off the bench against Aston Villa on November 2nd. It would be the start of something truly special.
Until then, Kane’s European exploits were a sign of potential more than anything else. With all due respect to the Europa League, the level of opposition in the early stages are a long way off the glitz and glamour of the Premier League. Nevertheless, Kane’s penchant for goals had been pleasing. On the back of the Villa win, the manager would continue to place increased trust in his emerging star. By the turn of the year, he would be Tottenham’s main man. Neither club or player have looked back since.
Kane’s goalscoring feats should not be downplayed for a second. Should he remain top of the pile over the final weeks, the Spurs man will be the first Englishman to win the Golden Boot since Kevin Philips hit 30 in 1999/2000. Given the fact he’s already become the first homegrown talent to hit 20 goals in back-to-back campaigns since Alan Shearer, it’s hard to argue against the fact that he is the nation’s finest natural goalscorer in well over a decade. And arguably the key to his success is that he isn’t focused on any one talent.
At a glance, the lack of a single star attribute would seem to be a downfall. Kane isn’t the fastest player in league, he doesn’t have the heading ability of Andy Carroll or hit a ball like Sergio Aguero. What he does do, however, is excel at everything. Quite simply: he is an all-round striker. Perhaps that’s why it’s so easy to draw comparisons with Shearer. Either way, it’s certainly working for a striker who is quickly earning a reputation as the most important player in the league.
Very few players are blessed with the ability to score goals and dictate play, but Kane is unquestionably the lynchpin of Tottenham’s attack. Many factors have contributed to the club’s transformation from perennial Europa League qualifiers to genuine title contenders, but Kane is at the apex of everything Pochettino has set out to achieve; not least when it comes to movement.
Make no mistake; Kane is a goalscorer and comes to life in and around the 18-yard box. However, unlike many lone strikers, Tottenham’s No.10 isn’t solely committed to hassling defenders in the central areas. Kane’s general movement, be it to find space for himself or his teammates, is top class. He is the embodiment of everything Spurs are trying to achieve right now. As the supporters so loving sing, he is one of their own.
Kane’s all-round attacking abilities make him a real nuisance for opposing defenders and managers. His victims will grudgingly confirm that it’s very difficult to stop a man that’s capable of everything, and the Spurs man is one of the few players that falls into that bracket. You only have to look at the varied catalogue of goals scored in the past couple of months to see that the striker has various strings to his goalscoring bow. Whether it’s the classy whipped peaches or instinctive runs into the box, the Tottenham man never looks short of confidence. This was underlined earlier this season when he openly set sights on Shearer’s record of 260 Premier League goals. Meanwhile, his sublime international goal against Germany showed that he has a trick or two in his arsenal and is willing to showcase them even on the biggest stage.
Perhaps his biggest strength, however, is his character. When watching Kane, there’s always a sense that he’s playing with a sense of childlike freedom. Whilst he is clearly very able at listening to instructions and working his game into a formational system, there’s no question that he simply tries to do the things that come natural. Invariable that will lead to success, especially in front of goal. And that’s something that English supporters haven’t seen since Michael Owen.
Sometimes, it’s hard to see exactly what makes Kane a world-class striker. But that’s exactly what is. Scoring 45 goals and counting in two Premier League seasons is no mean feat. The fact he has done so whilst still perfecting his craft, in a team that has undergone a state of transition no less, only adds further reason to believe that he is the real deal. In Pochettino and Tottenham, he has the perfect environment to thrive and continue that development.
The only aspect arguably missing from his game is that ability to get Premier League spectators on the edge of their seat in the way that previous stars like Gareth Bale once did. However, he certainly has a knack of getting Tottenham fans jumping out of theirs by scoring goals., and that is a talent that very few players are blessed with. It’s absolutely no surprise that Real Madrid and other huge clubs have reportedly been tracking his progress with eager eyes.
As the puns surrounding his name suggest, Harry Kane’s rise to prominence has been a whirlwind of one mind-blowing achievement after another. Whether Tottenham can overhaul Leicester’s advantage to lift the Premier League crown or not is irrelevant at this stage; the Spurs No.10 is a world-class talent regardless.
If he remains at White Hart Lane in 2016/17, it would take a brave man to bet against him hitting the 20-goal target once more.