From Leyton Orient to Tottenham's first team via Millwall: Charting the rise of Harry Kane
Last Updated: 27/02/15 10:36am
Charting the rise of Harry Kane from his early loan spells to the heartbeat of Tottenham's attack.
The 21-year-old's stunning performances have come as a shock to many this season, but those who have worked with Kane previously have always recognised his talent.
Indeed, the striker's rise may not be as meteoric as first appears, with the youngster now benefiting from his hard work during a string of loan spells. Here we look at his experiences before making the breakthrough at Tottenham...
After scoring 18 goals in 22 matches for Tottenham's reserves in 2009/10, Kane attracted interest from Football League clubs. He appeared twice on the first-team bench at White Hart Lane in the first half of the 2010/11 campaign before eventually signing for Leyton Orient on loan in January.
"We're really happy that Harry has joined us," said O's boss Russell Slade. "He is a player that we've watched several times and I'm sure he will have an impact with us over the coming months."
Kane found the net in only his second appearance as Orient thrashed Sheffield Wednesday 4-0, earning praise from his manager. "I was delighted for the young lad who did really well for us and got his goal in his first league start," said Slade.
Four more goals followed, including a brace in a 4-1 win against Bristol Rovers, as Kane helped Orient climb from 19th in League One when he arrived to a seventh-place finish.
Following his encouraging half-season at Leyton Orient, Kane was brought back into the first team at Tottenham. He made his debut in a Europa League qualifier against Hearts, missing a penalty after being brought down in the box.
Five more appearances followed in the Europa League as Kane got off the mark for Spurs with the last goal in a 4-0 thrashing of Shamrock Rovers. His performances had caught the eye of Championship clubs and, along with Ryan Mason, the youngster joined Millwall on loan at the end of December.
Kenny Jackett was instantly impressed by his contribution. “I like Harry, I think he’s got a lot to work with and I thought he brought something to it,” he said after a 1-0 defeat to Bristol City on Kane's first appearance. “He had a very good debut and was unlucky not to score, he gave us some link in terms of his passing and his play and I do think he’ll be a good addition for us in the second half of the season.”
That prediction proved correct as Kane hit form following a tentative start. He scored seven goals in the final 14 matches, including the winner at Portsmouth as Millwall ended the campaign on a seven-game unbeaten run.
"He was such a success here we would welcome him back any time," said Jackett. "We've watched Harry develop as the season has gone on and his progress has been superb."
The manager's assistant, Joe Gallen, went either further in his praise, tipping Kane for the top after his brilliant displays in the Championship.
"He's a very good finisher, very good all-round game and we're thankful to Tottenham for letting us have him," said Gallen. "I think he's going to score lots of goals in his future. He loves football, he loves training - he gets annoyed when we pull him away from finishing training because we're worried he's going to get a thigh strain."
After returning to Tottenham, Kane continued to be involved with the first-team squad, hitting a hat-trick in a pre-season victory against Southend. He made his Premier League debut in a 2-1 defeat at Newcastle on the opening day, coming on as an 86th-minute replacement for Sandro.
Norwich had noticed Kane's rise during loan spells in the Football League, and brought the then 19-year-old to Carrow Road on a deal until the end of the 2012/13 season.
“I'm delighted to bring in someone of the quality of Harry," said Chris Hughton. "He is a very talented young player and has bags of potential. He enjoys scoring goals as he shown coming through the ranks at Spurs and during some good loan spells as well.”
However, that optimism was curtailed as Kane broke a metatarsal in only his second appearance. "He will be a big loss because he is a young player of fabulous potential," said Hughton. "It is a real disappointment, especially when he was just up and going. He has settled in very well."
Kane returned to Tottenham for treatment and, despite briefly heading back to Norwich in December, he was soon recalled owing to Spurs' striker shortage.
Once Tottenham's injury crisis had eased, Kane was allowed to leave again, this time to a Leicester side chasing promotion to the Premier League.
"He's a player we know quite a lot about and I am delighted," said Foxes boss Nigel Pearson. "He can play as wide striker or as a central striker. He is a decent size as well and gives us another option in forward positions.
"If you are going to bring players in on loan they have to have a hunger for success and I am confident we have another player coming into our ranks who will bring a lot of positive qualities to the squad."
Kane scored in his second game - a 3-0 win against Blackburn Rovers - but started only three more matches over the rest of the campaign as Leicester eventually crashed out to Watford in the play-offs.
Return to Tottenham
“We can't have a loan situation that does not work for him, like the ones that we have had before,” said Andre Villas-Boas following Kane's difficult spells at Norwich and Leicester. “That's why we have been very cautious with his next step, and we have not been in a rush in that situation.”
In the end Tottenham decided to keep hold of the striker for the 2013/14 campaign. He was given opportunities to impress as part of Villas-Boas’ squad rotation, scoring a crucial equaliser against Hull in the Capital One Cup as Spurs progressed on penalties following a 2-2 draw.
Kane's form didn't quite rise to the level of the current campaign, but he displayed his potential with three goals in three matches in April after being brought into the first XI by Tim Sherwood.
That experience has no doubt proved vital - along with the rest of Kane's education - in laying the foundations for his phenomenal season. While some may still be sceptical as to whether the 21-year-old can maintain his progress, Kane is reaping the benefits of his hard work early in his career.