Football NewsTuesday 22nd November 2016

Premier League: Harry Kane is leading from the front and a shining light for Tottenham's young guns

Premier League: Harry Kane is leading from the front and a shining light for Tottenham's young guns

Spurs’ win over their London rivals was vital for so many reasons. Mauricio Pochettino’s side hadn’t won a game since the start of October in all competitions, they hadn’t scored in open play since the middle of October and West Ham’s last visit to White Hart Lane could not end in a loss for Spurs – the fans would never hear the end of it. But until the 88th minute, the game looked to be heading towards every Spurs fans’ worst nightmare. That’s before Kane stepped up to save the day, like he always seems to do.

Many younger Spurs fans are in uncharted territory when it comes to Kane because no Tottenham academy product has had this impact on the club for a long time. Ledley King is a hero for every supporter, and will long remain so, but his injuries will mean many didn’t see him at his very best – a level that could easily have seen him play for the Milans, Real Madrids or Manchester Uniteds of this world were it not for his knee. The only other academy product that’s had a great level of success since the turn of the century is the much-maligned Sol Campbell – who ended up achieving his success across the road. The likes of Ryan Mason, Jake Livermore, Andros Townsend Adam Smith and Charlie Daniels have forged themselves good Premier League careers, but none stood out as much as Spurs’ number 10 does. Kane is on the brink of becoming a world-class player, if he isn’t already one – a beacon of pride that can be worn by many in the academy setup at Tottenham who nurtured Spurs’ number 10 since the age of 14.

On the subject of world class, many use international football as an excuse to bash Kane, but the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Karim Benzema, Sergio Aguero and Diego Costa hardly set the world alight playing for their countries. Even Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo aren’t quite as prolific when donning their national team’s colours. Whilst he only has five goals in 17 appearances for England, five of these games off the bench, he never seemed to fit into Roy Hodgson’s system – one that did not allow Kane to receive the ball higher up the pitch like he does for Pochettino’s Spurs and did not allow him to press in the way he does for Tottenham. In fact, the only game where England came close to emulating this was the 3-2 win over Germany in Berlin, where Kane scored a fantastic goal and Eric Dier scored the winner, whilst Dele Alli was arguably man of the match. So whilst his international record is nothing to write home about, he already has 54 Premier League goals at the age of 23 – the same number of Gustavo Poyet, Damien Duff and Nwankwo Kanu – and needs one more goal to break into the Premier League’s all time top 75 goal scorers list.

When he picked up a worrying looking injury against Sunderland, his first major blow since becoming a first team player at White Hart Lane, little did fans know it’d be seven weeks before they saw him pull on the lilywhite shirt again. The first four games without their talisman saw Spurs put five past Gillingham, two past Middlesbrough, win away in Moscow and play Pep Guardiola’s unbeaten Manchester City off the park – winning 2-0. It looked they’d be able to cope without Kane – Heung-min Son was scoring, Erik Lamela was chipping in, Christian Eriksen was finding some form and Alli has a knack for finding the net.

It didn’t last long. A late Alli equaliser sealed a point at the Hawthorns, followed by 0-0’s in Leverkusen and Bournemouth before an EFL Cup exit at Anfield. Another draw, this time at home to the Champions, preceded an embarrassing 1-0 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen at Wembley. Spurs were no longer missing Kane, they were almost lost without him. Now that’s not a dig at Pochettino or the personnel at Tottenham – but a sign of just how important Kane is to the side.

The Englishman returned for the North London Derby on November 6th, a game that the majority of fans were dreading. Not only did he score Spurs’ equaliser in a 1-1 draw, but his presence and energy almost spurred the side on to all three points. His attitude on and off the pitch is infectious and sets a precedent for the rest of the team, a player can’t help but press and harry when they see Kane busting a gut for the side.

After a two-week break, another derby followed. And if there’s any game that the Englishman knows how to score in – it’s a London derby. Before the game versus West Ham, his record stood at 15 goals in 15 league derbies – a phenomenal record for any player. He was quoted in a Spurs TV interview in November 2015 saying, “Growing up in the area and growing up in the academy, you know what the games mean to the fans and everyone around the area. Obviously you get bragging rights with your mates at school and your mates at work so yes, I know what it’s like. I’m always up for these games.” And boy did he deliver, again.

If tapping in the equaliser in the 88th minute wasn’t enough, Kane had the chance to mark his return to the Lane with a bang from the penalty spot. Was there ever any doubt? Spurs’ other Harry that evening, debutant Winks, when asked by Spurs TV, replied, “No doubt. Absolutely no doubt. I was [already] thinking about the celebration.” And that’s exactly what Kane brings to Tottenham – belief and confidence. When he picks the ball up anywhere near goal, you don’t doubt that the net could soon be rippling.

If Kane does go on to stay at Spurs for years to come, like he has hinted at many times, he could go on to become one of Spurs’ greatest ever players. His relationship with the fans is already like no other – he’s adored, idolised and loved. Should Spurs’ rise under Pochettino continue, there is no realistic reason for Kane to leave the club. There’ll always be bigger and better clubs, but he will never hold a place in any club’s heart like he does to every single Tottenham fan.

A local lad, born not too far from the club’s home, brought up through the academy and going on to become a club legend – now how many of us have dreamt of that?