HARRY KANE

NO WON­DER EV­ERY­ONE WANTS A BIT OF HARRY

Australian Four Four Two - - JUNE 2015 - Words James Maw Por­traits Shamil Tanna Stylist Jerry Khan

"It was Michael Duff, I think."

The fact that Harry Kane isn't en­tirely sure which Burn­ley de­fender left him with a black eye on the day of his Four­FourTwo cover shoot tells you ev­ery­thing you need to know about his at­ti­tude. No mat­ter what's thrown at him - re­jec­tion, abuse, flail­ing arms - he just gets on with it.

"Some­times in the heat of the battle you get a knock here, a kick there - that's part of foot­ball," he shrugs as he set­tles down in a quiet cor­ner of a hus­tling stu­dio in Lon­don's hip­ster-friendly Hag­ger­ston. "If you come off the pitch with a few bruises af­ter a hard-fought win, you re­ally feel you earned it."

'Earn­ing it' is some­thing Kane has had to do. Although his up­ward tra­jec­tory this sea­son has been steeper than any­body could have imag­ined, this is no boy won­der story in the mould of Michail Owen or Wayne Rooney. At the age Kane scored his first Pre­mier League goal on his ninth top-flight ap­pear­ance (20 years and 253 days), Owen had scored 50 goals in 98 league matches Roone 42 in 132. Un­like Liver­pool and Ever­ton, Tot­ten­ham didn't have a re­cent his­tory of bring­ing through lo­cal young­sters

“The big­gest dif­fer­ence? Get­ting recog­nised ev­ery time I leave the house”

into the first team. In the last 15 years, only Led­ley King has come through Spurs’ academy and made 100 se­nior ap­pear­ances for the club. “It’s not come easy for me,” the 21-year-old Kane says with the kind of author­ity you don’t of­ten as­so­ciate with play­ers so young. “I’ve prob­a­bly had to work harder than most to get where I am. I think other fans and other pro­fes­sion­als ap­pre­ci­ate that.” It is nearly four years since Kane made his se­nior de­but for his lo­cal club, but it’s only this sea­son that he has been af­forded the op­por­tu­nity to play regular Pre­mier League foot­ball. Since then, he has won Tot­ten­ham matches against hated ri­vals Chelsea and Ar­se­nal, be­come the first Spurs player since Gary Lineker to net 30 goals in a sea­son, taken the cap­tain’s arm­band and net­ted in the first 79 sec­onds of his Eng­land de­but. Oh, and he’s played in goal. But did he see any­thing like this com­ing back in Au­gust? “I never re­ally set my­self spe­cific goals or tar­gets,” he says. “My aim was just to try and get as many games as I could in the Pre­mier League. There was ex­cite­ment at the club with the new manager [Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino] com­ing in. We saw that his phi­los­o­phy at Southamp­ton was to bring through young play­ers. I’d had a good end to last sea­son, so I was re­ally look­ing for­ward to what was ahead. “I didn’t sit and think: ‘This is the sea­son I want to be­come first-choice striker’. If you do that, you put too much pres­sure on your­self. I knew I’d have to work hard just to get my chance, then see what I could do with it. Ob­vi­ously what’s hap­pened has been a dream.” In the space of six months, Kane has gone from be­ing a fringe player at a club strug­gling to adapt to life un­der a new manager, to one of the most talked-about play­ers in Europe. In Jan­uary, Span­ish daily Marca pro­filed Kane, spec­u­lat­ing he could be the next Spurs star to walk the well-worn trail from White Hart Lane to Real Madrid; then in March, re­ports in Italy sug­gested Ju­ven­tus were mon­i­tor­ing the progress of the Ching­ford goal-ma­chine. “That’s just foot­ball th­ese days,” Kane says of his new-found sta­tus as a global head­line-gen­er­at­ing phe­nom­e­non. “It’s a bit strange to think about peo­ple in places like Spain and Italy talk­ing about me, but the Pre­mier League is such a world­wide league that it’s just what you ex­pect. I try not to read what peo­ple are writ­ing about me any­way.” Try as he might to ig­nore the hype, Kane’s world has changed dramatically over the course of this sea­son. “The big­gest dif­fer­ence has been get­ting recog­nised ev­ery­where,” he says with ap­par­ent dis­be­lief. “When I’m at the su­per­mar­ket, if I’m out for a meal with my girl­friend, walk­ing down the street – it hap­pens pretty much ev­ery time I leave the house.” And Harry isn’t the only Kane now turn­ing heads as he goes about his daily busi­ness. His older brother, Char­lie, tells FFT he has been col­lared by strangers who think he’s Tot­ten­ham’s new hero. “He loves it,” Harry chuck­les, giv­ing a lit­tle wink to his sib­ling sat across the ta­ble. “I don’t think we look alike, but a lot of peo­ple seem to.” “I’m the bet­ter-look­ing one,” Char­lie vol­leys back, be­fore turn­ing his at­ten­tion to his phone. Kane will have grown ac­cus­tomed to pos­i­tive feed­back in the last few months. There’s been whole-hearted com­men­da­tion from leg­endary pros, in­clud­ing Alan Shearer, Gianluigi Buf­fon and Paul Sc­holes (“praise from guys like that can only give you con­fi­dence”), and celebrity en­dorse­ment from Alan Sugar, One Di­rec­tion’s Louis Tom­lin­son and even Hol­ly­wood stars – as Harry’s agent, Mar­lon Fleis­chman, ex­plains: “When we were at Wem­b­ley for the [Cap­i­tal One] Cup fi­nal, Jude Law recog­nised the fam­ily and came over from the next box to say hello and tell us what a mas­sive fan he is of Harry.” Then there’s the al­most un­fet­tered adu­la­tion from the White Hart Lane faith­ful. There has been no short­age of kind words.

“Fans recog­nise Kane as some­one who looks, acts and talks like them”

Ini­tial views of Kane weren’t all quite so gush­ing. “I didn’t re­ally rate him, from what we’d seen of him,” says Martin Cloake, a mem­ber of the Spurs Sup­port­ers’ Trust, speak­ing here in his ca­pac­ity as a fan since 1978. “I knew he was be­ing talked of as a prospect, but I re­mem­ber go­ing to Brighton’s sta­dium a few years back to see him play for Eng­land Un­der-17s against Den­mark and think­ing, ‘This lad’s never go­ing to make it’.” He wasn’t alone. “At first, Harry Kane seemed like any num­ber of strik­ers that had come through our youth team – av­er­age,” sighs Spurs fan Gary Flavell, host of the popular Fight­ing Cock pod­cast. “He was Lee Barnard, Paul McVeigh, Cameron Lan­caster. Noth­ing about his loan spells or his fleet­ing ap­pear­ances in the Europa League gave any in­di­ca­tion of what was to come. Most would be ly­ing if they claim they fore­saw his abil­ity from the lit­tle we’d seen from him.” His loan spell at Nor­wich didn’t draw rave re­views, ei­ther. “He wasn’t great,” says Ca­naries sea­son ticket holder Matt Wal­lace of Kane’s time at Car­row Road. “He gen­er­ally strug­gled to do any­thing with the ball, and never looked a goal threat in any way, shape or form.” The story was sim­i­lar dur­ing a stint at Le­ices­ter. “It’s safe to say he didn’t par­tic­u­larly en­joy his time with us,” adds Foxes fan Tom May­bury. “And the harsh truth is that we didn’t en­joy watch­ing him much ei­ther. It just didn’t work out. In his de­fence, he was shifted out of po­si­tion onto the left wing, but it didn’t help that his hold-up play and first touch were poor.” As far as Spurs fans are con­cerned, Kane’s star­tling sub­se­quent up­surge couldn’t have been bet­ter timed. With Gareth Bale in Madrid and the team fail­ing to set pulses rac­ing, the club was lurch­ing into some­thing of a malaise. An­dre Vil­las-Boas and Tim Sher­wood had come and gone, Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino was ini­tially strug­gling to im­part his tac­ti­cal wis­dom on his new charges, and there was grow­ing dis­cord be­tween the club and fans. The high turnover of play­ers – not to men­tion man­agers – meant Tot­ten­ham were, as a team and as a club, search­ing for a clear per­son­al­ity and im­age. “Over the last few sea­sons at Spurs it’s been in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to iden­tify with any player that strongly,” ex­plains Cloake. “But Kane is recog­nised – par­tic­u­larly by younger fans – as some­one who looks, acts and talks like them, and does what they would love to do.” It could be ar­gued the af­fec­tion for Kane now al­ready out­weighs that for Bale, Luka Mo­dric, David Gi­nola, Jur­gen Klins­mann or any other Spurs su­per­star of the past two decades. Fans have worn Kane masks at Wem­b­ley (“strange, but flat­ter­ing“), pho­to­shopped pic­tures of Kane as Je­sus (“I don’t know who made them, but they’re quite amus­ing”) and sung with un­re­strained pas­sion that he is ‘one of their own’ (“I’ve never sung it my­self, but I’ve hummed it walk­ing out of the sta­dium to my car”). It’s al­ready a near-re­li­gious ob­ses­sion. “The strangest re­quest I’ve had from a fan has been to sign body parts,” Kane says, adding, quickly enough to deny FFT the chance to make a smutty joke, that he specif­i­cally means hands and arms. “I don’t re­ally un­der­stand it – surely it’ll just wash away? Hope­fully they aren’t get­ting them tat­tooed on!” Well... “I haven’t ac­tu­ally seen any Harry Kane tat­toos yet,” the 21-year-old adds

be­fore fall­ing into fits of laugh­ter when FFT asks how he’d re­act if he saw his face inked onto the chest of a de­ranged megafan. “I’d feel very priv­i­leged,” he smirks. “It would be a bit strange, but if some­body wants to do it, they should go for it.” His team-mates love him, too. “He’s a com­plete striker, a good team-mate and a great guy,” says winger Nacer Chadli. “He’s strong on the ball, good in the air, a great fin­isher and danger­ous from the edge of the box. He helps the other play­ers, too; he helps de­fen­sively, plays good passes and can hold up the ball. “Be­fore I came to Tot­ten­ham [in 2013] I hadn’t heard of him,” the Bel­gian ad­mits. “But as soon as I started to train with him last sea­son, I could see he had a lot of qual­ity – he just had to show it in matches. Now every­body knows him.”

Hav­ing played in goal, Kane knows what keep­ers don’t like in a striker

Kane leans back, re­call­ing his ear­li­est mem­ory of kick­ing a ball. “We used to go over to the park be­hind our house and play be­tween two trees,” he says with a wist­ful smile. “Char­lie would stick me in goal and take shots at me for hours. I was quite good in goal as a kid. At Ridge­way Rovers [where Kane played be­tween the ages of six and 11] I was orig­i­nally tried out as a goal­keeper – not for long, but I loved throw­ing my­self about.” Although the young Kane never played a com­pet­i­tive match as a goal­keeper, he would still spend train­ing time in nets dur­ing his now-no­to­ri­ous sea­son-long spell with Ar­se­nal as a seven-year-old. Tot­ten­ham’s home­grown hero was in their academy for less than 12 months, but nat­u­rally that was long enough for him to be pic­tured in the fa­mous red shirt, as any­body who has glanced at a tabloid news­pa­per or logged onto Twit­ter in the last four months will tes­tify. “He was a de­cent keeper,” re­calls Alex Welsh, who was an academy coach with the Gun­ners back in 2003. “But you could see even then that he also had what it took to be a striker. His heart wasn’t re­ally in goal­keep­ing, prob­a­bly. We’d get the goal­keep­ers in pairs tak­ing it in turns to serve and keep goal. Harry loved serv­ing, be­cause it meant he had the chance to shoot and score.” His lust for rip­pling nets didn’t do him any favours when he had to don the gloves in a com­pet­i­tive match ear­lier this sea­son. “It was un­stop­pable,” Kane jokes with a rue­ful ex­pres­sion, re­call­ing the free-kick that squirmed un­der his body as he filled in for the dis­missed Hugo Lloris in Oc­to­ber’s Europa League win over Asteras Tripo­lis. “My mind was rac­ing; I prob­a­bly thought about it too much. If I’d been the de­fender on the line I would’ve just con­trolled it with one touch and hoofed it clear with an­other. I still think I’m a good keeper, but I don’t think I’ll be trusted again. I’ve had my dream shat­tered, there.” Although Kane’s youth­ful dal­liance with the gloves didn’t help him to keep out a tame free-kick at one end, it may have helped him bag the hat-trick at the other that saw him col­lect the match­ball in that game. “A striker who has been a goal­keeper can see things from the goalie’s per­spec­tive,” Welsh ex­plains. “They know what the keeper likes and doesn’t like. He learned that a keeper doesn’t like a striker who can find space away from de­fend­ers; who knows where the ball will drop and is al­ways there; who shoots while the keeper is off-bal­ance.” Dave Brick­nell, for­mer chair­man and coach of Ridge­way Rovers, con­firms Kane was a handy stop­per, but ex­plains that was never the young­ster’s true call­ing: “He was a nat­u­ral goalscorer, and for a kid of his age he could hit a ball re­ally well. His age group was very strong, but Harry stood out.” One of Harry’s old Ridge­way team-mates re­mem­bers him well. “Ob­vi­ously, since he’s start­ing bang­ing in Pre­mier League goals I’m more than happy to tell peo­ple I played with him,” says Craig Rodhouse, who lined up along­side Kane at Ridge­way from the age of six. “We went to dif­fer­ent schools, so I also played against him in a lo­cal schools cup fi­nal. He didn’t score, so now I tell peo­ple I marked an Eng­land striker out of a game! “When we started out at Ridge­way, he played in mid­field, and you could tell he was tal­ented,” Rodhouse adds. “He scored di­rectly

“He wasn’t that ex­cep­tional within his age group but he was ob­ses­sive about the game”

from a cor­ner in our first ever match at the age of six, so he in­tro­duced him­self pretty early on!” If this all sounds like misty-eyed re­vi­sion­ism, Rodhouse isn’t just speak­ing from hazy rec­ol­lec­tions of his child­hood. “A cou­ple of weeks ago, my dad fished out a pair of videos of our matches from that time,” he ex­plains. “Even at that age, Harry un­der­stood the game. At six or seven he prob­a­bly had the foot­balling brain of a 15-year-old.”

“Ev­ery time I went on loan, I was still think­ing I’d come back and be a Spurs player”

That ad­vanced foot­ball mind was some­thing that made Kane stand out. In fact, it was one of the things that earned him his place at Tot­ten­ham’s academy. “What he’s do­ing in the Pre­mier League to­day is ex­actly what he was do­ing at the age of 10,” says Mark O’Toole, for­merly a youth scout for Tot­ten­ham, now work­ing for the na­tional team of the Repub­lic of Ire­land. “He al­ways had a great foot­ball brain.” O’Toole is the man Spurs fans can thank for tak­ing Kane to White Hart Lane, hav­ing closely mon­i­tored the young­ster. “I watched Harry – at Ridge­way Rovers and five-a-sides all over the place – over the course of about a year,” O’Toole ex­plains. “Af­ter 12 months, I went to Tot­ten­ham and told them I had a boy I wanted to bring in for a trial. About six weeks later he was signed on.” An 11-year-old Kane joined Spurs in 2004, af­ter a two-month spell at Wat­ford. Hav­ing seem­ingly been head and shoul­ders above most of his team-mates at Ridge­way, he found it more dif­fi­cult to stand out once he ar­rived at the Lane. “I first saw Harry play in about 2005, early in my time in my devel­op­ment role at Tot­ten­ham,” cur­rent QPR manager Chris Ram­sey tells FFT. “While he al­ways had abil­ity, he wasn’t one of the ex­cep­tional or stand­out play­ers of his age group. “What was al­ways ev­i­dent about Harry was how hard a worker he was on and off the pitch. He was ob­ses­sive about the game, and that ded­i­ca­tion can help to get you to a cer­tain level – cou­pled with de­cent abil­ity, of course. “It was about five years ago,” Ram­sey con­tin­ues, “that those of us in the devel­op­ment setup re­ally started to think Harry had a chance of mak­ing the break­through. Nat­u­rally, you’d some­times look at the first team and think ‘if so-and-so is get­ting games, then this kid de­serves his chance’. We started to think that about Harry.” The young­ster was also start­ing to im­press Tot­ten­ham’s se­nior pros, thanks in no small part to scor­ing 18 goals in 22 matches for the club’s un­der-18 side in 2009/10. “We could see from an early stage that Harry was a great fin­isher,” for­mer Spurs de­fender Michael Daw­son tells FFT. “When the re­serves won, we’d all be ask­ing: ‘How many did Harry get this week?’ We knew he could step up – he just needed a chance in the first team.” But for a long time, those chances were few and far be­tween. Hav­ing been im­pressed by the striker’s per­for­mances dur­ing a spell on loan at Ley­ton Ori­ent the pre­vi­ous sea­son, Harry Red­knapp gave Kane his Spurs de­but in the sec­ond leg of a Europa League play-off against Hearts in Au­gust 2011. Kane saw a tame penalty eas­ily saved by vis­it­ing keeper Jamie MacDon­ald, spurn­ing the chance to make the best pos­si­ble first im­pres­sion. He even­tu­ally did net his first se­nior goal for the club when he bun­dled home in a 4-0 win away at Sham­rock Rovers four months later, but within three weeks he had been sent out on loan for a sec­ond time, this time to Mill­wall. He im­pressed again, scor­ing nine goals and win­ning the Li­ons’ Young Player of the Year award for 2011/12, be­fore re­turn­ing to

North Lon­don with the aim of im­press­ing new boss An­dre Vil­las-Boas. Things looked up when the Por­tuguese an­nounced he “be­lieved in” Kane and would make the 19-year-old his third-choice striker. Yet, days later, the for­mer Chelsea and Porto coach signed Em­manuel Ade­bayor and Clint Dempsey, farm­ing Kane out on loan to top-flight com­pan­ions Nor­wich. This time, things didn’t go so well. “I broke my fifth metatarsal a few weeks into my loan spell, went back to Spurs for treat­ment and never re­ally worked my way back into the first team,” Kane re­calls. He made five ap­pear­ances for the Ca­naries with­out scor­ing. His first big chance to prove him­self at Pre­mier League level had been and gone. And things weren’t about to get eas­ier any­time soon. Again Vil­las-Boas hailed Kane as his ‘third-choice’ striker, and again he soon sent him out on loan – this time to Le­ices­ter in the Cham­pi­onship. “I found it tough there, too,” Kane says of his time at the King Power Sta­dium. “I played a few games out of po­si­tion when the team was strug­gling for form, then ended up on the bench not re­ally get­ting many min­utes. “But those ex­pe­ri­ences made me who I am now. Apart from any­thing else, that time taught me how to cope with sit­ting on the bench when you think you should be play­ing. I would watch the game, think­ing what I could be do­ing dif­fer­ently to the play­ers on the pitch. Then, when­ever I was called upon, I was al­ways ready to make an im­pact, even if it was only for the last five or 10 min­utes.” That was prob­a­bly just as well, as for a long time Kane’s only Pre­mier League ap­pear­ances were brief cameos from the bench. This caused ruc­tions within the White Hart Lane hi­er­ar­chy. “Harry played first-team matches for Harry Red­knapp and An­dre Vil­las-Boas, but he needed the sup­port of the devel­op­ment depart­ment,” claims Chris Ram­sey. “Tim [Sher­wood] and Les [Fer­di­nand] pretty much had those man­agers in a head­lock to get Harry and the other young­sters into the first team!” Kane laughs upon be­ing read that state­ment. “Chris likes to have a laugh and a joke, so I’m sure it wasn’t quite as bad as it sounds,” he says, smil­ing. “I al­ways had a good re­la­tion­ship with Tim, Les and Chris. They’d al­ways watch my matches to see how I was get­ting on, whichever club I was play­ing for. They’d tell me I had to keep do­ing what I was do­ing and I’d get to where I wanted to be.” “It’s true that there were clubs in­ter­ested in tak­ing Harry on loan in the sec­ond half of last sea­son,” Ram­sey re­veals. “To be fair to the boy, at that time you’d have had to drag him out of the club to get him any­where else; he knew his level and the play­ers we had at the time and thought ‘I de­serve to be picked’. That’s not ar­ro­gance – Harry is very down to earth – but he is also con­fi­dent in his abil­ity, and rightly so.” De­spite hav­ing such a battle on his hands to ce­ment a regular start­ing spot, Kane never felt a move was his only op­tion. “There wasn’t re­ally ever a mo­ment I thought I’d have to leave,” he says with a shrug. “Ev­ery time I went out on loan it was al­ways with the mind­set that I’d come back and be a Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur player. When I came back from Le­ices­ter, I had al­most a year work­ing hard in train­ing, try­ing to im­press, be­fore I got my chance with Tim [Sher­wood]. I took it and I’ve not looked back.”

“Sat on the bench I could hear the fans singing my name – it sent a shiver down my spine”

In the early weeks of 2014/15, there were few signs the story would be any dif­fer­ent. Kane was once again start­ing league matches on the bench, de­spite im­press­ing in cup games. On the open­ing day, he came off the bench to set up Eric Dier’s last-minute win­ner at West Ham, del­i­cately slot­ting his team-mate in on goal with the Ham­mers’ de­fence lag­ging. De­spite that one mo­ment con­sti­tut­ing a more no­table con­tri­bu­tion to the match than any­thing Em­manuel Ade­bayor mus­tered in his 83 min­utes on the field, it was the

To­golese striker who started again when QPR vis­ited White Hart Lane a week later. Kane started all seven of Spurs’ Europa League and cup matches through to the end of Oc­to­ber, scor­ing eight goals, but not even that – or grow­ing me­dia and fan pres­sure – was enough to con­vince Po­chet­tino that Kane should start at Villa Park on Novem­ber 2. Kane did what he had learned to do best – he waited. He watched as Ade­bayor and Roberto Soldado wasted chances and drifted out of the match. The away end made their pref­er­ence clear. “He’s one of our own, he’s one of our own, Harry Kane, he’s one of our own.” Po­chet­tino was lis­ten­ing, and so was Kane: “I could hear it from the bench and it sent a shiver down my spine.” With 32 min­utes re­main­ing and Spurs trail­ing 1-0, Kane was thrown into battle. Villa were tir­ing, and Kane’s en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm caused them prob­lems. Chadli lev­elled with six min­utes re­main­ing, sweep­ing home Erik Lamela’s in­swing­ing cor­ner, be­fore Car­los Sanchez fouled An­dros Townsend on the edge of the Villa box in the first minute of in­jury time. Kane and $55m Ar­gentina in­ter­na­tional Lamela stood over the free-kick. The lo­cal boy pulled rank on the big-money su­per­star, pow­er­ing in the set-piece via a de­flec­tion off the top of the wall. Cue wild cel­e­bra­tions and a mass pile-on, which Kane con­fesses “re­ally hurt un­til adren­a­line took over”. “The game at Villa Park was def­i­nitely a turn­ing point,” he re­flects. “Be­fore that, I’d been show­ing what I could do in the Europa League and League Cup games, but com­ing on in the Pre­mier League and scor­ing the win­ning goal in in­jury time was a state­ment: I was ready. I’ve started ev­ery league game since – touch wood [ Kane taps the ta­ble in front of him] – so I cer­tainly made the most of my chance!”

Like Bale, Kane put in the hard yards af­ter train­ing

The ‘knuckle ball’ tech­nique Kane used to strike through the dead ball was rem­i­nis­cent of a cer­tain for­mer team-mate. “Gareth Bale is a very good free-kick taker, and he prac­tised that a lot,” Kane ex­plains. “I used to see him do­ing it in train­ing and thought I’d try it out. I looked up to him when he was at Spurs – be­ing able to learn from some­one like that in train­ing is only go­ing to help you.” So has the Real Madrid man been on the blower in an at­tempt to coax Kane to the Bern­abeu? “No, no, of course not,” Kane blushes, break­ing out the straight bat. “I ac­tu­ally haven’t spo­ken to him in a while. We used to play golf to­gether ev­ery now and then. It’d cer­tainly be nice to see him again.” Kane may not want to talk about it, but few play­ers who have a streak as hot as his avoid ad­mir­ing glances from the game’s su­per­clubs. Af­ter all, although he shared only 14 min­utes of com­pet­i­tive pitch time with Bale, there are plenty of com­par­isons to be drawn be­tween the pair. Both are quiet young men who ini­tially strug­gled to im­press at Spurs, spend­ing time on the fringes be­fore sud­denly mak­ing a star­tling im­pact. Even Kane’s ap­proach to train­ing ap­pears sim­i­lar to that of the Welsh­man, who reached his full po­ten­tial by not only ‘bulk­ing up’ but also by putting in the hard yards on the train­ing pitch af­ter hours. “I stay be­hind af­ter train­ing to work on my fin­ish­ing and prac­tise for match sit­u­a­tions,” says Kane. “I think that’s why you’ve seen me score ev­ery dif­fer­ent type of goal this sea­son – in­side the box, out­side the box, head­ers, left foot, right foot – be­cause I’ve worked hard to make that hap­pen. I still don’t think of my­self as a top player. There’s still room for me to im­prove and my mind­set is to keep try­ing to do that. There are al­ways more goals you can score and more wins the team can get. The mo­ment you think you’ve reached the top, some­body else will come along and over­take you. I al­ways want to try and be bet­ter. “The main thing I want to work on now is the phys­i­cal el­e­ment. I want to get as fit and as fast and as pow­er­ful as I can. In pre-sea­son, we worked a lot on my fit­ness, speed and strength, and it’s ob­vi­ously helped me – a lot of peo­ple have come up to me and said how dif­fer­ent I look to last sea­son!” That phys­i­cal edge has cer­tainly come in handy. It has al­lowed Kane to shine from the first minute to the last in tra­di­tion­ally drain­ing and frac­tious fix­tures. “The Chelsea and Ar­se­nal games were my best two per­for­mances of the sea­son,” Kane chirps, proudly. “Chelsea was prob­a­bly our best team per­for­mance as well. I’ve had a few good days this sea­son, but to score twice against a team like Chelsea and beat them in the way we did [5-3] was very spe­cial.” Mo­ments such as those will give any striker a boost, and Kane is cer­tainly a young man com­fort­able in his own skin. FFT noted the con­fi­dence with which he strode into the room, which was in­con­gru­ous with our per­cep­tions of him as a shy lad still get­ting used to his new sur­round­ings. He knows he’s good, and that’s not bad. Af­ter all, con­fi­dence for a striker is ev­ery­thing. “I wouldn’t say I ex­pect to score ev­ery time I go on the pitch, but I’m dis­ap­pointed if I don’t,” he ad­mits. “There’ll al­ways be games where you don’t score and the key is how you re­spond to that the fol­low­ing week. That’s been some­thing I’ve done well this sea­son; if I’ve gone two or three games with­out scor­ing, I’ve been able to even­tu­ally get a goal and then get an­other lit­tle run go­ing.” Kane was on one of those lit­tle runs go­ing into Fe­bru­ary’s North Lon­don derby – so much so that his brace in a 2-1 win felt al­most in­evitable. He’d be­come not only the Pre­mier League’s hot topic, but also its hottest striker. The run-up to the game had been dom­i­nated by talk of a new Spurs hero with a past at the other end of the Seven Sis­ters Road. One cu­ri­ously-dressed Ar­se­nal fan on a bizarrely popular YouTube chan­nel sought to kill the hype dead a week be­fore the match by claim­ing he hadn’t even heard of Tot­ten­ham’s No.18. “Some­one did show me the clip of him say­ing that he’d never heard of me, ac­tu­ally – Whose name is Harry Kane?’ – and then his re­ac­tion af­ter I scored the win­ner,” Kane grins. “That was a pretty sweet feel­ing!” In 2015 alone, Kane has scored against Ar­se­nal, West Ham, Chelsea, Crys­tal Palace and QPR – all of the Pre­mier League’s other Lon­don clubs. “I’m not too sure why – I guess I just like a lo­cal derby. Scor­ing against your lo­cal ri­vals is the best feel­ing. That’s why those games have been the high­light of my sea­son in a Spurs shirt.” FFT, with the scent of bal­lot boxes in its nos­trils, floats the idea that, hav­ing con­quered all four cor­ners of the cap­i­tal, the young­ster may one day con­sider run­ning for Mayor of Lon­don: “Maybe, but I don’t think the Ar­se­nal fans or the Chelsea fans or the West Ham fans would be too happy about vot­ing for me,” comes the dead­pan re­ply.

For Harry, Eng­land and Greg Dyke

Kane Fever reached pan­demic lev­els in the run-up to April’s in­ter­na­tional be­tween Eng­land and Lithua­nia. “I knew there was a lot of talk about me get­ting the call-up, but I wouldn’t say I ex­pected it,” Kane says in typ­i­cally un­der­stated fash­ion, re­call­ing his first in­volve­ment with Eng­land’s se­nior team. “I was with Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino at the time the FA phoned, which made it that lit­tle more

spe­cial. I didn’t re­ally jump about or go mad; we just had a quick hug and he told me he was proud of me and that I de­served it. I wanted to meet up with the squad and make an im­pact, and that’s ex­actly what I man­aged to do.” Even­tu­ally, at least. With Kane stripped and ready for ac­tion, he just needed the game to be stopped so he could be subbed on. The ball didn’t go out of play for a fur­ther five min­utes. All Kane could do was watch. It must have felt like a life­time. “It made me a bit more anx­ious than I nor­mally would’ve been,” the striker laughs. “But things hap­pen for a rea­son – if I’d got on straight away, maybe I wouldn’t have scored so quickly. But at the time I was just hop­ing some­one would just smash the ball out! “It was the most emo­tional mo­ment of the whole year. To rep­re­sent your na­tional side is what any young player dreams of do­ing; to do that and score as well made it an in­cred­i­ble night for me and my whole fam­ily.” If Kane needed help cop­ing with the sud­den in­crease in pres­sure that comes with be­ing Eng­land’s new star striker, he was in the right dress­ing room. Wayne Rooney may now be Eng­land’s cap­tain and most ex­pe­ri­enced player, but he was once the wide-eyed, wet-eared pup of the group. “He’s a top pro­fes­sional and a re­ally down-to-earth guy,” Kane beams with the en­thu­si­asm you’d ex­pect from a young man now able to call a boy­hood idol a col­league. “You can tell he just loves foot­ball. He’s a great cap­tain and he looks af­ter the lads when they need help. I think he was ex­cited to see me as much as I was to see him. He wel­comed me into the squad; he knows what it’s like to be the young striker com­ing through, so it was good to have him there, giv­ing me tips. The main thing he said was to not let things away from foot­ball dis­tract me.” As chummy as they may be now, Kane is al­ready gun­ning for Rooney’s im­mi­nent spot atop Eng­land’s all-time scor­ers chart. “Yeah, why not? If you’re play­ing well and play­ing reg­u­larly for your coun­try, you want to be scor­ing goals. But there’s a long way to go. I don’t like to think about things like that. Hope­fully one day I’ll be on 48 goals and then we can talk about it! “Any top striker wants to play for their coun­try and lead the line. We’ve got a lot

“If I can be an in­spi­ra­tion for young kids, that’s great for the game and the coun­try”

of com­pe­ti­tion for that place in Eng­land, and that’s a good thing. It’s mo­ti­va­tion.” But if the open­ing mo­ments of Kane’s de­but brought joy, the first few min­utes of his sec­ond ap­pear­ance – a friendly against Italy in Turin – brought noth­ing but pain. With the ball barely off the cen­tre spot, Ju­ven­tus de­fender and no­to­ri­ous swine Gior­gio Chiellini went through the back of the Eng­land rookie like a freight train. “I don’t think he meant it,” Kane says, be­fore mo­men­tar­ily paus­ing to re­con­sider his de­fence of the rugged Pisa-born cen­tre-back. “Well, OK, maybe he did, but I think it’s a sign of re­spect in a way – it showed me that he was ready for a good test. We had a good tus­sle, then shook hands af­ter­wards. To be in that sit­u­a­tion against one of the best de­fend­ers in the world can only help me de­velop.”

The birth of a poster boy

Hav­ing gone from Tot­ten­ham’s bench to Eng­land’s for­ward line, Kane’s jour­ney to the top was sud­denly a story in it­self. Greg Dyke high­lighted Kane’s ear­lier strug­gles in or­der to strengthen his claim that the max­i­mum num­ber of non-home­grown play­ers in a club’s first team squad should be re­duced from 17 to 13. “Harry is an in­ter­est­ing case,” the FA chair­man said. “Sud­denly an English kid, who it was touch and go with as to whether he’d get in [Tot­ten­ham’s] first team, is the top scorer in English foot­ball. How many more Harry Kanes are out there who just can’t get a game?” Kane was sud­denly a pawn in a po­lit­i­cal game – not that he was too both­ered. “If I can be an in­spi­ra­tion to young kids com­ing through, or help them get their chance, that’s great for the game and the coun­try,” Kane shrugs. “But that’s down to other clubs – it’s cer­tainly not any more pres­sure on me. At Tot­ten­ham, [the young play­ers] have shown we’re good play­ers and we de­serve to be out there play­ing. “Ob­vi­ously the manager’s been great and given us the op­por­tu­nity to play, and we’ve paid him back with the way we’ve per­formed. It shows that you don’t al­ways have to buy play­ers to get what you want; some­times other play­ers just need to get a chance.” The big ques­tion is: how can Tot­ten­ham’s lo­cal hero, Eng­land’s new hope and the FA’s new poster boy avoid sec­ond-sea­son syn­drome in 2015/16? “I can’t ever stop try­ing to im­prove,” he says, sternly. “I’ve had a great sea­son, but there are al­ways big­ger and bet­ter things out there. We want to push for the Cham­pi­ons League, and we want to win a tro­phy. It’s been a great year for me, but you’ve got to look to go one step fur­ther. “De­fend­ers are get­ting a bit tighter on me now, and maybe there’s a de­fen­sive mid­fielder screen­ing in front of me too. You could see there was quite a big dif­fer­ence in Chelsea’s game plan be­tween our league game at White Hart Lane and the League Cup fi­nal. Did they do that specif­i­cally with me in mind? Maybe.” At that thought, Kane raises an eye­brow and breaks into a know­ing smirk. Whether it’s op­po­si­tion man­agers like Jose Mour­inho, Eng­land coach Roy Hodg­son, FA Chair­man Greg Dyke, fans of Tot­ten­ham, the peo­ple of Eng­land, the world’s me­dia or ter­ri­fied op­po­si­tion cen­tre-backs, all eyes are on Harry Kane. He can prob­a­bly ex­pect a few more knocks and bruises over the next 12 months – a small price to pay for now be­ing the most in-de­mand player in the coun­try.

From top Good times at Spurs; tough times at Le­ices­ter; heady times when film stars are fans of your work

For once, Kane’s con­trol

deserts him

Be­low “This is how much I love you, Harry – now will you just sign my... arm?”

Above The win­ner at Villa: “a big turn­ing point,” ad­mits Kane

Above Earn­ing his Spurs in the 2011/12 Europa League Be­low A loan star at Ori­ent and Mill­wall... Right ...but not Nor­wich, where he was hit by an in­jury

“Do I re­ally need to sell this to you, Hazza?”

“Bet this wasn’t in Jose’s dossier, eh lads?”

Rooney: “a great cap­tain”

Above “Turns out this in­ter­na­tional foot­ball lark is easy” Be­low “Although on sec­ond thoughts...”

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