Harry Kane has again demonstrated that he is quite capable of stepping up to meet the challenges presented to him at each level of the game at Tottenham.
Harry Kane has been around Tottenham Hotspur for quite some time. Or that’s how it appears to Spurs fans who have known about the young player for a number of years. What many forget is that Harry Kane is still only 20 years of age but because of his goal scoring exploits with the Tottenham Academy teams he came onto the Spurs fans’ radar at a much younger age than most young players.
A second misapprehension by some fans was that Kane is a striker. Because of his goalscoring feats with the Under-16 and Under-18 teams at Spurs, many assumed he was an out-and-out striker with a predatory goal-scoring streak. There is, however, much more to Kane than that, he works hard for the team across the pitch looking to link with others while maintaining his eye for a goal.
Kane has started 4 games this season, the last two being his first starts in the Premier League, and made 11 substitute appearances, scoring 3 goals. As he has done throughout his career at club and international under-age level, he has met the challenge of this latest step up with a positive response, showing that he is capable of delivering.
After his early recognition as a young player of note, before making his debut for Spurs, in January 2011 at the age of 17, he went out on loan to the tough world of league football with Leyton Orient in League One. Kane scored 5 goals in 18 appearances and impressed as Orient made an unsuccessful bid for the play-offs, just missing out by one place.
Kane’s first appearance for Tottenham came in the Europa League the following August and was greeted with great interest. His debut was against Hearts at White Hart Lane. Harry Redknapp had selected an under-strength team with a number of younger players and Kane, just turned 18, gave a confident account of himself, outshining his experienced Russian international strike partner, Roman Pavlyuchenko. He earned a first half penalty that night and took it himself but the dream of a debut goal that everyone inside the stadium wanted to see was dashed when the goalkeeper saved his shot.
My report of that 2011 debut contained the following assessment of Kane,
‘Harry Kane was the player many were wanting to see, having heard good reports of his goal scoring for youth and Spurs XI sides. In his debut, he worked hard and showed a willingness to cover back to help in defence. Even in the final minutes of added time he came back to defend and having won the ball in the penalty area, he set off up the field. He had little support from Pavlyuchenko and few chances on goal. He created more for Pavlyuchenko than the Russian international did for him. He seems willing to learn as he showed early in the game. Corluka bawled him out for not moving onto a through ball but after that he made himself available with runs into space to receive the pass and from one he got behind the defence to shoot across goal. He also looked to Cudicini for guidance when he went back in defence to defend at a corner, ascertaining where the keeper wanted him to stand for his defensive duties. After that at every free-kick and corner he took up his delegated position. He should benefit from this experience and be stronger the next time.’In the first half of that season, Kane made 6 appearances in the Europa League team and scored his first goal against Shamrock Rovers in Dublin. The following January he went on loan to Millwall, stepping up to the Championship. His 27 appearances and 9 goals impressed the hard to please Millwall fans and showed that the young player was capable of playing at this level despite his young age.
Kane’s progress continued last year on loan at Leicester City in the second half of the season with 2 goals in 15 appearances as the Midlands side reached the play-offs. His early season experience at Premier League Norwich was cut short by injury but there he was less successful being played as a striker which reduced his effectiveness and contribution.
This year, with restricted opportunities at Spurs, he has taken his chance with a goal when coming off the bench in a Capital One Cup tie against Hull City. His extra time equaliser taking the game to penalties and he converted confidently in the penalty shoot-out. He has also impressed in brief cameo appearances as a substitute. He troubled the experienced Benfica central defenders in the Europa League defeat at White Hart Lane with his strong running on the ball and came so close to giving Spurs a memorable victory in Lisbon with a late attempt at goal. Now Kane’s latest step-up to the Premier League has gone well with 2 goals in consecutive appearances.
It has been a similar story for Kane in England Under-age internationals. Each year he has stepped up and delivered performances which have shown that he is deserving to be playing at that level. From Under-17 through Under-19 and Under-20 level he is now playing at Under-21 and scored a hat-trick against San Marino. He has a total of 12 goals over the different age levels.
Harry Kane is more than just a striker. He works hard across the pitch and links up with other players while retaining his ability to strike at goal. When the team is under pressure he comes looking to become involved and with his ability to run powerfully with the ball he gives some respite to the defence and causes problems for opposing defenders who find it difficult to knock him off the ball without conceding a foul. He is a confident, skillful player with the strength to hold off defenders.
In the future, his immediate career development may be best served, on loan, at a Premier League club who will use him properly and where he will get the opportunity of regular playing time.
Commenting on Kane’s penalty miss in 2011, I wrote, ‘I hope in years to come young Mr Kane will not be thinking, ‘If only.’
On the evidence of his progress in the subsequent three years Harry Kane has not allowed that penalty miss to hold him back.