Yes, you read my headline correctly, Arsenal fans should love Harry Kane – the outcast turned hero for Arsenal’s rivals Tottenham Hotspur, but above all a man who everyone should look to as a role model and motivation.
Kane’s rise has been meteoric. I type this on the night of his England debut, where in 80 seconds, he managed to hunt a Lithuanian defender down, peel off to the back post and score the first of hopefully, many international goals. Now consider that digesting the first passages of this article took as long as it did for Kane’s dream to come true. A sentence that barely seemed imaginable a mere 12 months ago.
The first I’d heard of this extraordinary talent was through a friend who supports Spurs when I asked him, as an Arsenal fan, if Spurs had any youth prospects coming through the club at a time when Arsenal had the likes of Wojciech Szczesny and Jack Wilshere coming through the ranks. And his response was priceless, “Nope, they’re all shit, especially this fella Harry Kane; he might be the worst footballer I’ve ever seen”. Strong words, admittedly his words not mine and I took them with a pinch of salt, pushing the name and indeed the opinion to the back of my mind, safe in the knowledge Kane would surely not feature heavily in my footballing lifetime, would he?
Evidently through a mixture of hard-work and perseverance, this young man’s footballing talents are now firmly in my vision, and indeed my heart. His story is incredible, unique even, and a rise like this will surely never be emulated.
After several loan moves which did not exactly set the world alight at clubs such as Leyton Orient and Milwall, Kane returned to Spurs for the 2013-14 season. However, the new manager never fancied him, sparingly using him in competitions, whilst buying Roberto Soldado further stunted his development, along with the employment of a rigid 4-5-1 formation. During that time though Kane worked incredibly hard behind the scenes, becoming much more athletic and bigger in build to further increase his chances of physically being able to cut it in the top tier of English football, including adding much-needed power to his legs to increase his jumping and quicken up his acceleration. Clearly however, without his knight in shining armour Tim Sherwood, a man whose time at Tottenham Hotspur was much maligned, Kane may not be the player he is today. Sherwood saw the work ethic of this young man and gave him the chance to prove himself in the Premier League at the back end of the season. Subsequently, Kane grasped his opportunity firmly with both hands, scoring 3 goals in as many games against Premier League opposition in the form of Sunderland, West Brom and Fulham.
What inspires me about this young man is what happened next in his life, taking a route I haven’t seen a young player do for a long time; continuing to stay humble and work hard. I point to Raheem Sterling as a clear paradox to their approach. Sterling walks with a certain arrogance after only playing at the top level for 6 months, and is allegedly demanding £100,000 + wages in his contract negotiations. The same can arguably be said of Luke Shaw, who gained weight over the previous Summer after securing his big move to Man United. Kane, on the other hand did the opposite and went, worked even harder with a genuine and honest determination to fulfill his boyhood dream, something we as men and women can all relate to. All in all, it has certainly paid off massively for him.
As I write this, Kane sits as the top scorer in the Premier League, and as an Arsenal fan I can honestly say I am happy for him. Above an Arsenal fan, I am a football fan, hence when Kane scored his incredible header against Arsenal in the North London derby to make the score 2-1, my reaction was instinctive, as a football fan. I stood and applauded. That piece of skill should not have been met with swearing or anger, it was simply an act by a genius at work, and deserved to be applauded. And above a football fan, I am a human being, and this is why everyone, putting club allegiances aside, should be happy whenever he scores or does anything playing football. Yes, I would prefer if it wasn’t for Tottenham, but who cares, the man deserves it. Nowadays, the term role models cannot be attributed to many footballers, but the word is worthy of the man in the photo below me, and we could all benefit from working as hard and staying as humble as he is.
So Harry, from the fingertips of an Arsenal fan, keep up the brilliant work as I, like many others, are proud of you.
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