Making it as a professional footballer is tough. Making it as Premier League player, even tougher. Making it is a professional footballer, for a Premier League team chasing Champions League football, that is on its third manager in under 12 months? Astronomically difficult.
That is the challenge facing Tottenham youngster Harry Kane, a challenge he is starting to meet and beat.
Hopes were high as Kane starred for the Spurs U18 side and on into the Development squad. Successful loan spells at Leyton Orient (five goals in 18 games) and Millwall (seven in 22) while still in his teens gave a glimpse of his potential, and he also played six games in the Europa League for the Lilywhites in 2011, winning and missing a penalty against Hearts in the qualification round, before scoring his first Tottenham goal against Shamrock Rovers.
While possessing good technical skills, there was little else impressive about Kane during that season, so it was surprising that the following season Kane joined Premier League side Norwich on a season-long loan. The Chingford native suffered a serious injury in only his second appearance for the Canaries, playing only five times before Spurs recalled him. A loan to Championship side Leicester gave Kane some more experience but there was a feeling that the season was a missed opportunity at a key moment in the striker's progression.
Clint Dempsey left last summer, and Jermain Defoe's departure left Emmanuel Adebayor and the out-of-form Roberto Soldado as the only competition standing in Kane's way. A rocket of a goal in the Capital One tie against Hull hinted at a stronger, quicker, more determined Kane, and when given his first Spurs start in the Premier League he delivered, scoring in the 5-1 win over Sunderland. Subsequently, the 20-year-old scored in the next two games, putting himself firmly in the first team picture.
Harry has also represented England at U17, U19, U20 and U21 levels, scoring a hattrick against San Marino's U21 side.
Comparisons with Sheringham
There are comparisons to Spurs oldboy Teddy Sheringham - Kane likes to drop deep, bring others into the game, his off the ball movement is superb for someone so young, and he appears to read the game proficiently, like the ex-England international. However, Kane has also developed physically, adding a lot more pace to his play, a willingness to take on players, and a tremendous leap for aerial duels.
A lot of youngsters make their mark with pace - speed excites and makes an immediate impression. Raheem Sterling has done so at Liverpool, and Kane's team mate Aaron Lennon lit up the Tottenham right wing when he appeared as an 18-year-old. However, if that's all a player has then that excitement can fade away - Lennon again being a prime example.
Kane appears to have the mental skill to excel at the highest level and if he can continue to develop his game - especially his physical ability - then he will become a good Premier League player, perhaps more. He is the type of player who needs to play in a cohesive side, something Spurs were not last season, and hopefully Mauricio Pochettino's arrival will see Kane progress and fulfil his potential.
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