Huddersfield’s Conor Coady salutes his England pal Harry Kane
League experience vital – Coady
IN THE bewildering rise and rise of Harry Kane there is one clear yet paradoxical truth – both noone and everyone saw it coming.
While the revisionists, led by Tim Sherwood, will claim he was always destined for superstardom, surely nobody could have anticipated Kane earning a senior England debut at 21 – and scoring within 80 seconds of coming on against Lithuania on Friday night – having already amassed 29 goals this season at Tottenham.
Certainly those who witnessed a willing but hardly prolific youngster drift through loan spells at Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich and Leicester could not have foreseen the phenomenon that was to come.
Yet Huddersfield midfielder Conor Coady, who captained Kane for England U20s, believes the key to his success lies in those mixed years in the Football League that make his subsequent exploits all the more unprecedented.
“He’s one of the most hard-working lads I have ever played with so while his call-up didn’t surprise me, he did get there earlier than most of us thought he would,” said Coady.
“He is a role model for all young footballers and his commitment definitely deserves to be recognised.
“The fact that he didn’t produce at Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich or Leicester is not as important as all the playing experience he got and what he learned from all those different experiences and people he worked with.
“With the England age-group sides, he was always the first out, practising his free-kicks and just banging ball after ball into the net in training, growing as a player – it’s all he’s ever done.”
FA chairman Greg Dyke invoked Kane this week when imploring clubs to invest in home-grown talent, showing how the Spurs player has become a symbol of the virtues of nurturing ‘one of our own.’
Yet for Coady, a product of the Liverpool academy, he knew that after thriving on the regular football provided by a year-long loan at Sheffield United, his path lay away from his hometown club.
And after enjoying a successful first year with the Terriers, the 22-yearold says that some young players have plenty to gain by moving to clubs rather than staying put in the Premier League.
“It was exactly the right move for me – and still is,” he added.
“I went back to Liverpool in pre-season and knew it was time to go.
“It wasn’t that I fell out of love with Liverpool but I’d played at a big club in Sheffield United, really enjoyed my time there and wanted to carry that on.
“I’ve loved every single minute at Huddersfield but, at the same time, you’ve got to pick the right club, one that is looking to kick on and help you grow as a person and a player.
“When we lose games now, I come home and I find it hard to speak to anyone I’m that upset but you don’t feel that as an U21 footballer at a bigger club.
“Look at someone like Alex Pritchard. He’s kicked on massively this season but, again, he picked exactly the right team in Brentford who move the ball around quickly.” And while Coady is unsure whether English football is in need of as dramatic an overhaul as Dyke is proposing, he is confident any young player would benefit from having a boss like Chris Powell. “The system can always be improved but, at the same time, there are a lot of talented, young English players,” he said. “The U21s have a chance to do something special at the Euros this year.
“The success of guys like Harry Kane and Ryan Mason (also Tottenham) is proving that if teams put their faith in young English players, then a lot of the time they will reward you. I was signed before Chris Powell joined but he made it a very, very easy transition and he’s been fantastic because he just has this aura that ensures all players listen to and respect him.”
HURRI-KANE: Harry Kane celebrates his quickfire debut goal in England’s 4-0 romp against Lithuania. Inset: Conor Coady playing for Huddersfield against Reading
TALENT: Conor Coady captaining England U19s