This Time, Spurs’ Kane Returned to RBA a Star

images

By TIM LEONARD

download-1

HARRISON, N.J. — Harry Kane remembers Red Bull Arena. Five years ago, the Tottenham striker arrived for a preseason match as the lone forward on Spurs’ traveling roster. Only the most diehard Tottenham supporters even knew who he was. 

Back then, Kane was days away from his 19th birthday. He was a skinny kid wearing No. 37 and looking to find his place on the club he had grown up supporting. It happened faster than anyone could have expected. Five years ago, Kane was an anonymous squad player. Today, he’s one of the best strikers and most famous players in the world. He’s Harry Kane.

“Of course, it’s changed a lot,” Kane said, when asked about his life since his previous appearance in Red Bull Arena. “The last time I was here, I was a young lad trying to get in the team and prove myself. A lot has changed, but a lot of hard work has gone into that.”

That hard work has turned Kane into the most prolific striker in the Premier League. Kane has scored 75 goals in 102 Premier League matches over the last three seasons for Tottenham and has a total of 78 goals in 113 matches for Spurs. It’s a remarkable strike rate that included 29 goals in 30 matches last season, as Kane earned his second Premier League Golden Boot in as many seasons.

Kane’s life has been nothing short of a whirlwind over the last few years. He’s gone from being a teenager on loan to four different clubs to the Tottenham substitutes bench to the starting 11, to Tottenham’s leading scorer, to the England’s national team, to the Golden Boot, to becoming Spurs’ star, to another Golden Boot to national team captain. It’s quite heady stuff.

Kane’s breakout season came in 2014-15. Tottenham had spent big the previous season to add Roberto Soldado, but the Spaniard was ineffective in both of his seasons at White Hart Lane. When Soldado struggled early and Kane produced goals when given opportunities to play in Europa League and EFL Cup matches, the new manager Mauricio Pochettino didn’t hesitate to give the youngster a chance in Premier League matches.

It was one of the first examples that Pochettino would look to give Tottenham’s youth players the chance to have an impact on the first team. Kane rewarded his manager’s faith by scoring 21 Premier League goals in 34 matches (28 starts) that season, cementing himself as the club’s top scoring option. The highlights of that season included two goals in Tottenham’s stunning 5-3 victory over Chelsea and scoring another two in a 2-1 victory over rival Arsenal in the North London derby.

“We’ve got a great academy system at Spurs. Everyone who comes up knows the way we play,” Kane said. “The gaffer has always had the philosophy that if you’re good enough to play, you play. It’s down to the young men to push in training and try to work as hard as they can, as I did when I was coming through. It’s just about working hard in training and being ready.”

Tottenham supporters quickly embraced Kane with a full-throated fury. They knew he had come up through the academy, even if he had one season in the Arsenal academy when he was 8 years old, and that he was one of them, sitting in White Hart Lane and cheering for the club. With every goal he scores, supporters from the Park Lane End to the Shelf roar their approval and serenade Kane with:

“He’s one of our own. He’s one of our own.

“Harry Kane. He’s one of our own.”

The plan is for Kane to remain one of their own. Unlike recent defectors such as Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Dimitar Berbatov, Kane has no desire to leave North London. He declared that he already was at a big club when the rumors started about Kane moving on. Kane has stated his desire to play his entire career for Tottenham and be the lynchpin who leads the club to greater prominence and titles. He’s looking forward to playing his home matches at Wembley Stadium this season and being on the field when Tottenham’s new stadium opens for the 2018-19 season.

After his breakout season, there were dozens of rumors that had Kane going all over the globe. This summer, there has been none of that talk. The biggest clubs in the world – the ones who spend lavishly and without conscience – know they have no chance to get him.

While Kane is Tottenham’s highest-paid player, on an estimated $157,000 a week plus bonuses in Tottenham’s notoriously tight wage structure, he could make more guaranteed money at other clubs. But he didn’t support any of those other clubs while he was growing up in Chingford, a few miles from White Hart Lane. Kane is personally invested in Tottenham, and it shows. Too many players of similar caliber have left the club over the years. Kane has let it be known he is not going anywhere. He is where he wants to be.

“Football for me ain’t about money and I don’t think it is for a lot of players,” Kane told ESPN FC during Tottenham’s stay in Orlando, Fla., last week. “It is what it is. People go to different clubs for different reasons.

Kane won his second Premier League Golden Boot last season.

Kane won his second Premier League Golden Boot last season.

Kane has won back-to-back Golden Boots in the last two seasons, becoming only the fifth player in Premier League history to accomplish the feat. He joined Premier League legends Alan Shearer, Michael Owen, Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie in that exclusive group. Only Shearer was able to capture the honor three times in a row.

His breakout season earned him respect in some circles, but also resulted in plenty of pundits calling Kane a “one-year wonder.” Kane proved to be a one-year wonder for a second consecutive season in 2015-16, winning his first Golden Boot with 25 goals in 38 matches. That made Kane the first Tottenham player to win the Premier League Golden Boot since Teddy Sheringham did it when the league was started in 1992-93.

Kane followed that up by winning another Golden Boot last season, scoring a career-high 29 goals in 30 matches. Kane scored seven goals in Tottenham’s final two games – four against Leicester and three against Hull — to blow past Everton’s Romelu Lukaku for the award.

Pochettino has challenged Kane to score at least 30 Premier League goals this season. Given that Kane is celebrated his 24th birthday on July 28, it stands to reason there are even better days ahead.  A 30-goal season would make a third Golden Boot likely.

While his career has soared, his personal life also has blossomed. Kane and longtime girlfriend Kate Goodland had a baby daughter, Ivy Jane, in January. And, just a few weeks ago, Kane got down on one knee and proposed to Goodland. Of course, she said yes. The moment was later was tweeted to Kane’s 852,000 followers and posted on Instagram for his 2.1 million followers there.

“I took the chance when it came along. I tried not to look back since,” Kane said. “Hopefully, I’ll continue to do what I’m doing for many more years.”