One day on the Tottenham High Road there will be a statue of Harry Kane. For now, a trophy would be nice. You do not usually get one for breaking a record, at least not since the tragic removal of Roy Castle and Cheryl Baker’s Record Breakers from our screens, but Kane deserves something tangible for smashing through Jimmy Greaves’ 266 Spurs goals.
Look not at his goal against Manchester City, a one-touch tuck-in past Ederson so routine Kane celebrated with the handbrake on. Look at the lead-up, when he was all a-swivel, head and body contorting to track a passage of play which lesser strikers would have given up on long before the ball reached Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from Rodri’s loose pass.
This vigilance is what has kept Kane simmering as so many other Premier League strikers have flashed in the pan. He is a living study of best practice and of staying alive to chances. This, more than any natural talent, is what has elevated him from one-season wonder to his club’s best ever goalscorer. This is the price of admission for always being in the right place at the right time.
His diligence was there in 2011 in the Dublin commuter town of Tallaght where Kane scored his first Tottenham goal. Three-nil up against Shamrock Rovers, an overhit Danny Rose cross sailed over Kane’s head but the ball reached Andros Townsend, spare at the far post. He nodded it back to Kane who had reset and was primed for a swift first-time finish. It was strikingly similar to this winner against City.
His nose for a moment was there after this game too, when Kane spoke movingly on the pitch. “It’s quite surreal,” he said, blue eyes sparkling and perhaps a little dewy. “A magical feeling to do it here in front of the home fans and to win the game, it’s everything I dreamed about.
“I’ve been here since I was 11 years old, there’s been a lot of hard work, sacrifice and dedication. I’m going to take it all in, enjoy it, and look forward to the next one.” As he wrapped up he was mobbed by team-mates who had loitered alongside but Kane escaped, wanting to watch a pre-recorded congratulatory video from Greaves’s son Danny on the big screen. Even in this moment of euphoria he had broken off into a pocket of space.
The roar was long and loud for his historic goal and came in two movements. The first was the apex of anticipation after Spurs pressed then won the ball in a promising position. Then there was an echo as the realisation dawned that Kane had eclipsed Greaves. “He’s one of our own” was sung rhapsodically from every side of the stadium, words and tune tumbling over one another in a joyful clamour.
Kane’s first goal here, different pitch same postcode, came nearly two years after his first in Ireland, in a League Cup game against Hull City. Then there was a league goal on his first start, against Sunderland in March 2014. That was the prequel for his goalscoring run of 2014/15 which was thrilling but seemed brittle.
Again and again throughout that season, and several times since, a reversion to some imagined mean has been forecast. Again and again Kane has defied such pessimism. Most recently he has shrugged off a penalty miss for his country on the biggest stage. That was 58 days ago. I’ve got condiments older than that in my fridge.
Spurs knew this moment was coming and duly deployed their pre-prepared graphics, showing Kane through the ages in the act of a jumping goal celebration, concluding with a contemporary picture of him: Grounded, but past his peak.
Kane concluded his on-pitch address by urging fans to focus on this season, which still has promise. No doubt, but now this record is clinched there is a chance for a clean break this summer. This may be his last marquee moment for his boyhood club. If he does leave, what will he leave behind? It is difficult to contemplate.
There is a funny thing about late afternoon kick-offs at the newish Spurs stadium, so impeccably designed that your view is drawn inexorably to the pitch. You look up during a break in play and realise it’s night. The lighting is so good that nothing on the pitch has changed. But while you were watching it, the sky has gone out.
Leave a Reply