🔊🔊🔊”For a long time my motivation was simply to close my eyes and picture myself scoring against Arsenal in the Premier League. Done that a few times now, and it never gets old. But now, my motivation is a bit different. Now, I close my eyes and I picture myself lifting the Premier League trophy at our new stadium with my mates.”
Those were Harry Kane’s words in February 2018 in an interview with The Players’ Tribune after he scored his 100th Premier League goal for Tottenham.
“We’ve been close the past few seasons, but there’s only one way to close the gap – and I’m afraid it’s quite a boring answer. As my dad would say, we’ve gotta keep working, keep doin’. Keep getting on with it,” he continued.
Kane’s whole career, essentially his whole life, has been driven by proving people wrong, by the desire to be successful with his boyhood club.
He’s never been the most glamorous player. When he was a teenager, he was the everyman player, a generic figure, that guy you saw on the sidewalk on GTA a million times over because he’s a lazy computer generation.
Despite valuing success at Spurs above all else in his career thus far, Kane admitted on an Instagram Live video recently that he would consider leaving Tottenham in search of silverware should the club not continue to push forward. But it feels like that ship has sailed.
The England captain turns 27 in the summer and has had a recent history of serious injuries that have clearly affected his game – he’s slower, he’s weaker, he’s not as prolific, he’s not getting as many shots off, he’s not getting in the right areas to maximise his goalscoring abilities anymore. Kane remains one of the world’s finest forwards, but it’s apparent that he’s entering a new stage of his career, and one that could do without the upheaval of a move away from home comforts.
There was a time for Kane to leave Spurs – when he was scoring as many as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in a calendar year, when he was a back-to-back Golden Boot winner, when he was a trophy win away from being a serious Ballon d’Or contender.
Those days have been and gone.
But most importantly, Kane shouldn’t leave because it would almost be a betrayal to himself and his legacy, completely changing how he’d be remembered. He has the potential to head to Real Madrid or Barcelona or Bayern Munich or whoever and sweep up silverware, but there’d always be that asterisk next to his name – you never did it with Tottenham.
Kane’s legacy that he’s tried to leave since he became a top striker has been that of the one-club man, remaining supremely loyal to Spurs even when he could have forced a move to any team he liked. Players wanting to leave clubs in search of new challenges isn’t a bad thing, but Kane has set himself up to be more than a normal player. When you wed yourself into the marriage of one club, you can’t just opt out without major repercussions.
He could still break Alan Shearer’s Premier League goals record. He could still break the great Jimmy Greaves’ Spurs goals record.
He could still assume the captaincy from the waning Hugo Lloris and lead the club back to glory. Even several notches down from the best-case scenario, Kane could still retire as Mr Tottenham, the definitive face of his football club.
He’s come too far in his career to back out now – if he stays at Spurs, he’ll at the very least become a club legend there, but leaving would tear the club in two and he’d be just another striker wherever. You never did it with Tottenham.
Would a player with the almost unusual sentiment in the modern day of Kane rather live with the regret of not leaving to try and win elsewhere, or the regret that he never could break Spurs’ duck?