By Suresh Nair
My 12-year-old nephew this week wrote a few lines for a school exercise on his favourite footballer: England striker Harry Kane, nicknamed “The Hurricane”.
Wow, I was impressed as we both support Tottenham Hotspur and Kane is the unstoppable goal-scoring machine at 24 years as he simply cannot stop scoring goals since he came up the England ranks, five years ago. And now he’s even tipped to be England’s skipper at next year’s World Cup Finals in Russia.
My nephew wrote: “He’s my hero because he’s a true football professional with Tottenham Hotspur. He abstains from alcohol during the football season, and even hired a full-time chef to optimise his nutrition. You know what, he does not go to nightclubs, preferring to use his free time to play golf.
“What a role-model player for me. What a “Hurricane!”
Kane is simply oozing confidence and he has an unshakable belief that he can become the best striker in the world, and still play in the English Premier League (EPL).
The goal-scoring statistics don’t lie: He has scored 11 goals in his last six games and no matter England’s other failings, they truly do have a striker in world-class nick.
Awesome that in 2017, he has scored 34 times which is more than seven Premier League clubs in total: Southampton (33), Swansea (33) Burnley (32), Watford (31) Stoke (28), West Bromwich Albion (27) and Crystal Palace (26).
Mind you, this includes six hat-tricks, too, reminds former England striker Gary Linekar in a tweet. He’s just the seventh English player to score a Champions League hat-trick (Andy Cole, Mike Newell, Alan Shearer, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck)
He scored 38 for Spurs and England last season and bagged 32 the year before. He hit 32 in his 2014/15 breakout year. Those are significant numbers, yet the factor of popularity still stands out.
TIER-ONE SUPER STRIKERS
The critics may say that Kane isn’t quite at the level of tier-one super strikers like Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez, the aforementioned trio of superstars who fled to Spain. But in a period when European football is struggling to produce traditional, prolific No. 9s, the Premier League finds itself blessed with “The Hurricane”.
His status in the Premier League’s all-time scoring stakes is probably underrated too: He has scored more than Ronaldo, Bale or Suarez managed, and you can throw in Fernando Torres into that list, too.
German Bundesliga expert Archie Rhind-Tutt watched Kane make a big impact as he scored twice in a 3-1 win on September 13 against Borrusia Dortmund. “I would say he is the only England player who would get into the Germany team at present,” he said. “He is not particularly popular, but he has a growing respect given his performances against German teams.”
“What Kane did against Dortmund certainly showed us how the Tottenham striker is rising to world-class levels, he’s so clinical. Whether he could perform that way at a top club remains to be seen, though. The constant pressure of playing for a team such as Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Barcelona or another can test someone’s character in a different way.”
Spurs fan Tony Leong of Bukit Batok says Kane has two options if he wants to be considered one of the biggest names in the game. “He has to achieve global stardom by winning the Premier League for Spurs or pass up his loyalty to the club and make the leap to join an established elite club,” he says.
English football was shamed last month by the official list of the game’s top 55 players. People scoff at the Fifa/FIFPro World XI, but the long-list is decided by 25,000 professionals from 75 nations. And Kane is the only Englishman on there. With the best goals per game ratio (1.07) of any player in Europe’s top five leagues in 2017, he has broken into the elite platinum club.
So, “The Hurricane” is on the right road to be a “global” player. On the Fifa/FIFPro roll of strikers with him are Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Edinson Cavani, Cristiano Ronaldo, Paulo Dybala, Antoine Griezmann, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robert Lewandowski, Kylian Mbappé, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Alexis Sánchez and Luis Suárez.
“Harry is a good example for everyone because he is so concentrated on improving himself,” says Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino. “His own motivation is so high. We need players with that motivation. If everyone shows that motivation all is possible in football.
“We are working first of all to build the philosophy, of how to play. Then we want to win because the objective is always to win games and win titles. In my opinion Harry does not need titles to show he is one of the best strikers. It is true all players try to win titles, that is the aim of everyone, but for me so far, he is already showing he is one of the best strikers in the world.”
Pochettino feels Kane is close to unstoppable and may go on to eclipse Alan Shearer’s Premier League record of 260 goals.
“He’s one of the stronger players mentally. He’s Harry Kane and he wants to improve every day but yet he’s so humble,” he adds. “Alan Shearer was a great, one of the best strikers. Harry has it all in his hands to do everything he wants. But he knows well you must go step by step and try to build your own way. I think he is doing fantastic, if you see the stats he has a fantastic record.”
He has been so good that Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola even referred to Spurs as “the Harry Kane team” recently, a trap Zinadine Zidane, the Real Madrid boss, opted to sidestep. He says: “Kane’s very good at everything and what he does, he does playing towards goal. He’s always looking for spaces and that’s good. He is a complete forward. He perhaps doesn’t look like it sometimes, but he is.”
If you trace his teenager rise, it’s a rousing tale for any schoolboy: He signed for Spurs at the early age of 11 years and went through the various age groups of Tottenham’s youth system. In the 2009-2010 season he played 22 games for the under 16 team scoring an impressive 18 goals.
Rightly so, his boots is doing the talking now. His record and relentless scoring match up with anyone in the world, even beyond England.
He is currently matching Robert Lewandowski’s rates for the Bundesliga and had even looked a bit more ruthless and sharper of late than the Premier League’s previous finest finisher, Sergio Aguero.
At just 24, Kane is also half a decade younger than both and coming to that point of every career when so many key factors combine to produce a player’s prime form, when they are old enough and have experienced enough to know how to more intelligently use their talent.
The complete centre-forward?
Whatever you hail him, “The Hurricane” brings a number of awesome qualities to White Hart Lane. And with every game and every goal, the Spurs fans start to remove their tongues from their cheeks when calling the striker by his new nickname.
Suresh Nair is a Singapore-based journalist who has supported his favourite EPL club, Tottenham Hotspur, for over four decades. Harry Kane, in his view, is the tropical cyclone that will flood the trophy-cabinets at White Hart Lane.