This weekend Harry Kane tucked away a last minute penalty to earn Tottenham an FA Cup replay with Leicester City, furthering his impressive goal scoring form that he has shown over the last two seasons. The press as always were keen to praise him and the media continued to follow suit. However, the football fans in general, aside from his Tottenham fans, have been quite dismissive of the quality that Kane possesses, myself included in this. So why is this? Why is that large sections of football fans consider Kane’s form as temporary, a glitch, just a golden phase he is going through that is bound to end?
Let’s start by looking at the player himself, unlike a lot of the young English stars coming through in recent years, Harry Kane is a model professional. He doesn’t drink or go out to nightclubs, he dates his childhood sweetheart, walks his dogs and stays out of the public eye. He’s just a nice guy that works hard at his craft and politely enjoys the plaudits that come his way without arrogance. He is a footballer from the old breed, you can easily imagine Kane fitting in with the England players of the 50’s and 60’s, a gentleman footballer, inoffensive and classy.
He was also a late bloomer to top tier football, despite impressive displays throughout all the England youth ages, his early career at Tottenham was spent on various loan duties. Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich City and Leicester City were all temporary locations for the young forward to gain experience, with mixed results and playing time, and he wouldn’t really become a first team player at White hart Lane until the 2013/14 season. The following season would see Harry Kane rise to prominence as a top striker at Tottenham, a season of great personal achievement for club and country. His first career league hat trick came against Leicester, awarded the captains armband against Burnley, selected in the PFA Team of the Year and most notably awarded the PFA Young Player of the Year award at the end of the season. His goal scoring ratio was unexpected and impressive, equalling a club record of 21 Premier League goals (a total shared with Messrs Sheringham, Klinsmann and Bale), Kane would also pass the 30 goal mark in a season across all club competitions. This club form has continued against expectations this season, and despite a slow start to the campaign Kane has scored an impressive 14 goals in 27 appearances in all club competitions.
Senior International recognition was also achieved in March 2015 as Kane was included in the England squad to face Lithuania, Kane would replace Wayne Rooney in the second half and score only 80 seconds into his International debut. 7 more appearances for Roy Hodgson’s side have followed, 5 as a starter, with a further couple of goals under his belt and is now seen as an important player in the International setup. A lot of expectation will fall on Kane’s shoulders during the upcoming European Championship and his goals will be required if England are to go far in the tournament.
He's a forward that has everything in his locker, he’s quick, clever, strong, has a good touch, can hold the ball up, can shoot from distance, is good in the air. Some would go as far as saying he’s the most complete English forward we’ve seen since Alan Shearer. He scores all types of goals and can terrorise defenders at any level, it’s easy to forget he is still only a young man as he plays with such assurance and style.
So with all this, and with the high esteem he is held in by Tottenham fans, media and professionals, why is it that Harry Kane isn’t regarded as a top player by the general English fan? I believe it comes down to hype, the ‘dirty’ word that can be associated with the press and media outlets in the Country with regards to the Premier League and the players who perform within it. Everything is ‘the best in the World’, and the general fan is not only starting to wise up to it, but is also sick of hearing it. England has had players labelled as ‘the next big thing’ so many times in recent years and it’s very rare they even come close to living up to expectations.
Joe Cole was to be the biggest star in the game, Kieron Dyer was supposed to be an England great, David Bentley was the next Beckham and in the last year Michael Carrick was labelled the ‘English Pirlo’. Carlton Cole, Peter Crouch, Jermaine Jenas, Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon, Jack Rodwell, Adam Johnson, Gareth Barry, Kieron Richardson, Tom Huddlestone, Andros Townsend and Darius Vassell, we’ve heard it all before how these players were going to be such big stars. Even some of the current squad includes players hyped to the maximum early in their career, Theo Walcott was the English Thierry Henry, Ross Barkley the next Paul Gascoigne and Jack Wilshere our big midfield hope. They burden of the hype was placed on all of them and it’s very hard for them to fulfil it, which leaves fans disillusioned at the notion of them being great players to get behind.
It is understandable why we are fed the hopes of hype by the press and media, England had a golden generation that never quite lived up to their potential. Beckham, Neville, Ferdinand, Terry, Ashley Cole, Lampard, Scholes, Owen, Gerrard and Shearer were all fantastic talents that England could tap into at one time, so trying to find similar qualities in lesser players is a natural occurrence. Even at Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson would often praise his young academy players as being as good as, if not better, than the class of 1992, which was clearly not the case. It’s about giving the players confidence, but in England this approach has been overused and coupled with the ‘hype machine’ that is the Premier League, fans in general are sceptical of hearing how good these players are.
Harry Kane unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your point of view, has fallen victim to the previous hype. The press has cried wolf on so many occasions that people no longer believe it, but the stats don’t lie, they don’t hype. In the last two seasons Harry Kane has 45 goals in 78 club appearances, in addition to 3 goals for England in 8 caps, this is World Class form. There I said it, World Class form, I don’t mean I think Kane himself is a World Class player, his form is that of one, the player himself is a top star, not elite level but not too far behind. He is the player our media and fans should be getting behind, he conducts himself like a professional, performs like a superstar and never lets anybody down. He’s a footballer of the old breed, the type we as fans look back on in black and white tapes and pine for the days of. Harry Kane is that player we all want, we just have to shake off the past disappointments and realise the press aren’t crying wolf this time, he’s at the door and we should embrace him.