Consent Preferences Spurs Odyssey - Norman Giller's Blog (No. 331 - 14.09.20)
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Norman Giller's Spurs Odyssey Blog (No. 331) (14.09.20)

Submitted by Norman Giller

Lazy Spurs need a Mackay-Style leader

Ok, let’s first of all remember there have been only 90 minutes of the season so far. A little early for panic stations. There are still 3330 Premier League minutes to go. But, boy oh boy, do Spurs have to step up their game if they are to mark this Jubilee Double season with a trophy.

The depressing defeat by Everton – recorded HERE by our faithful guru Paul H. Smith – triggered a floodgate of criticism, curses and vitriolic comments online. The Amazon documentary All Or Nothing was used as ammunition to ridicule Jose Mourinho and so many players who did not turn up for this kick-off match. Even the fly on the wall will have turned its back on what was, let’s be honest, an appalling display.

‘Levy Out’ was trending on Twitter, as if it was the chairman’s fault that so many Tottenham players performed as if they had lead in their boots. Mourinho moaned that several lacked match fitness, but surely they have had the same training opportunities as the rest of the Premier League players?

I hate being one of those ‘In my day’ groaning old gits ("Exactly what you are, Norm …" Ed) (I didn’t write this….Ed), but all the great Tottenham captains I have seen across the decades – Ron Burgess, Danny Blanchflower, Dave Mackay, Steve Perryman – would never have accepted yesterday’s performance.

They (particularly Mackay) would have been chasing and chastising the players who just did not get out of second gear. It underlined just why I would never have a goalkeeper as my captain. Hugo Lloris stood helplessly in his goal area while his team-mates played what Jose described as a "lazy" game. Lazy … lazy? That word was not even in Mackay’s vocabulary.

And talking of old heroes … I wonder what went through coach Ledley King’s mind as Eric Dier failed to climb with Calvert-Lewin as he headed Everton’s winner with a power and style that would have met with the approval of his Goodison predecessors Dixie Dean, Tommy Lawton, Joe Royle and Duncan Ferguson. Yes, Everton pinched five yards with the free kick that set up the goal, but that should not be allowed to detract from the quality of the goal.

Mourinho must take his share of the blame for this unhinged performance against an expensively refurbished Everton team that will shake up the Premier League this season. He seemed to be playing "take a card, any card" with his substitutions. Sissoko for Ali. Really?

It made me wish hard for the return of one of Tottenham’s former masters from Real Madrid … no, not Gareth Bale but Luka Modric. Spurs were lacking the sort of direction given to them by Modric and then his successor Christian Eriksen. How about rescuing him from his nightmare in Italy?

Sorry, I am giving the impression of panicking.

The type of leadership I am referring to is that given to Everton by Brazilian midfielder Allan, who monopolised and managed the match with a subtlety and style that must have made his countryman Lucas Moura wish he was on his side.

Tottenham hardly have time to breathe before they set off to Bulgaria for Thursday’s Europa League match against Lokomotiv Plovdiv.

It’s going to be a long, surreal season. Let’s hope we look back at the sticky start against the Toffeemen as a small hiccup on the way to silverware.

At least England’s cricketers cheered me up with their back-from-the-dead victory against Australia in the ODI. Perhaps Jose could sign Jofra Archer.

Yes, I admit it: I’m panicking.

Meantime, we reach the last instalment of the serialisation of my story of Tottenham’s goal scorers. The book is called Shooting Spurs, with all profits going to the Tottenham Tribute Trust (actually, I’ve passed some of the income on to the NHS, sure nobody will mind). It spotlights every player in Tottenham’s history who has scored more than 50 League and Cup goals since the formation of the club in 1882.

Today we focus on the most productive Tottenham striker since Jimmy Greaves … our very own …


Harry Kane

Born Leytonstone 28 July 1993
Playing career span with Spurs: 2009-
Goals in 249 matches: 163 (at time of publication … now above 200)

HARRY KANE is the young man who inspired this book with an explosion of goal plundering performances that threaten to extinguish all existing domestic and international scoring records. I never thought I would live to see the day when anybody matched the fantastic feats of my old mate (and hero) Jimmy Greaves, but ‘Hurrikane’ Harry is not only keeping pace with the 1960s master but could one day even overtake him.

He is barely out of the foothills of his career yet already in his Essex manor house has a trophy cabinet crammed with awards. Pride of place goes to the Golden Boot he collected as leading marksman in the 2018 World Cup finals.

In a previous life I was a member of the This Is Your Life scriptwriting team for 14 years, and I am going to tell the extraordinary Harry Kane story with the sort of words I would have scripted for Eamonn Andrews and then Michael Aspel (with thanks to my old BBC friends for help with the research) ...

"Harry Edward Kane, you were born in Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone on July 28 1993, the same maternity wing where David Beckham came into the world eighteen years earlier. You are the son of Kim and Patrick Kane, an Irishman from Galway, and you have an older brother, Charlie. You spend your early days at the family home in Walthamstow, three and a half miles from the Tottenham Hotspur ground at White Hart Lane.

HARRY: "We often talk as to where I got my sporting genes. Dad likes to think it’s from the Irish side, but my Grandad Eric – Mum’s Dad – was a good footballer and Mum says I take after him. Sorry Dad!"

You move with your family to Chingford where you attend Larkswood Primary Academy. It’s with local football club Ridgeway Rovers that you have your first football trial at the age of six. This is how coach Dave Bricknell – a scout for Tottenham – remembers it:

"We staged our trials at Loughton rugby club, and I remember six-yearold Harry volunteering to go in goal. He was full of enthusiasm and a daredevil with his diving. Just as I was thinking we’d found ourselves a natural goalkeeper I was informed he’d come for a trial as a forward. So I stuck him upfield and he was even better than when he was in goal, passing the ball with intelligence and with an eye for goal. I could not believe his maturity and the great belief he had in himself. When he missed a chance he didn’t let his head drop and just worked harder for the next chance. Even at that age you could see he had something special.’

From a family of Tottenham supporters, you cause consternation among your relatives when you accept an offer to join Arsenal at the age of eight. You even go as far as having your hair dyed red! After one season with ‘the other’ North London club, they decide you do not have what it takes and let you go. Former Arsenal youth academy director Liam Brady:

"It was considered that young Harry was ‘a bit chubby’ and ‘not very athletic.’ Arsene Wenger didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when he was told we’d had him on our books. But he was hardly a boy wonder, and it’s easy in hindsight to see we made a mistake. I am delighted for him and the way he has developed into a world-class striker. It shows what you can achieve with the right attitude and application,"

HARRY: "I was choked when Arsenal let me go. I did not feel as if I’d been given a proper chance to show what I could do. It made me very determined to prove that I could make it. My Dad believed in me and told me not to give up. There was no chance of that. Looking back on it now, being released by Arsenal was probably the best thing that ever happened to me because it gave me a drive that wasn’t there before. I was always trying to prove them wrong."

You have trials with both Tottenham and Watford but they decline to sign you and you return to Ridgeway Rovers. At eleven, you switch to Chingford Foundation School, where David Beckham used to study, and you meet your idol at the David Beckham Academy in 2005. You are photographed with Becks along with your 12-year-old friend Kate Goodland. who becomes your childhood sweetheart. Ten years later you become engaged and have two children together. In the summer of 2019, you marry in a beach-side ceremony.

HARRY: ‘I am the luckiest man in the world to have found Kate. The fact that we’ve known each other so long means she knew me before I made it in football, and we deeply love each other. She went to university and worked hard to make something of herself, and is a great mum to our two girls. Kate keeps me grounded and she and my close family have worked just as hard as me to get me where I am today.’ (since publication, they have announced that a Kane son is on the way).

Both you and Kate go to the same Chingford school, where you show exceptional talent as a cricketer, but it is football that remains your first love. You are a sports fanatic, and take a close interest in American football, idolising New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Your PE teacher Mark Leadon recalls:

"Harry was obsessed with sport, with football number one on his agenda. Even at eleven, he was technically gifted. He had a great first touch, and could shoot with either foot. He was possibly an even better cricketer, and used to open the bowling and was a powerful batsman at No 4. But it was football that took most of his concentration, and he was an outstanding team player. I have never seen a youngster so driven. There was nothing of the Prima Donna about him. He was just determined to make his mark and gave everything for the team."

You shine in a match for Watford boys against Tottenham boys and Spurs have second thoughts about you and invite you to become a registered schoolboy player with them. This pleases your Spurs-supporting family after that early experience with the red side of North London. You are at first tried as a midfield holding player, then as an attacking schemer before you at last settle into the striking role for which you have become word famous.

HARRY: "It was scoring goals that gave me the biggest buzz. I wanted to be like my idol of the time, Ronaldo of Brazil. The English player who took my eye was Teddy Sheringham. I was excited by the way he would come through to score brilliant goals. That’s what I wanted to do."

But despite your enthusiasm it was touch and go whether Spurs would sign you on scholarship terms on your sixteenth birthday. Alex Inglethorpe, then head youth coach at Tottenham and now in the same role at Liverpool, reveals:

"I got my first look at Harry when I was working with the Spurs Under- 14s. He was a hard grafter, full of enthusiasm but he was far from the finished product. There were several players ahead of him in potential. He was not impressive in the air and not particularly strong on his left side. But he listened and he learned and became his own coach, pushing himself to improve his weaknesses. I’d be lying if I said we thought he was the best of our young talent. He was not even in the top half dozen. What eventually persuaded us to sign him was his high energy and clear intention to improve. In fact he was obsessed with making himself a better player, which is the sort of reaction we coaches love.’ We almost had to drag him off the training ground.’

Spurs are overcrowded with squad players, and it is decided to send you out on loan when you are seventeen. Your first port of call is League One Leyton Orient in East London. This is considered a make or break opportunity for you to learn your trade. On January 15 2011 you make your League debut away at Rochdale in front of a crowd of under 3,000, coming on as a 73rd minute substitute for veteran striker Scott McGleish, approaching the end of his career after scoring more than 200 goals in nearly 600 League games. He recalls:

"We all liked Harry. He was not one of those know-it-alls who thought he was superior ’cos he was on the books of a Premier League club. From his first day he was willing to learn from more experienced players, and was prepared to fight for his place in the team. He quickly learned where the goal is because it’s all about the markings on the pitch. He instinctively knew where he was because of the white lines. That’s important for any striker ... to know exactly where you are. He worked really hard in training to know what sort of shot suited what position you are in. Harry was a natural."

Harry Kane

Harry Kane, captain of England, sketched by Art Turner @ 2018

You score the first League goal of your career on January 22 when making your full debut against Sheffield Wednesday at Brisbane Road, steering a Dean Cox free-kick into the net from close range. Orient win 4-0 and by the end of the season you have found the net five times in eighteen matches. Recalled to White Hart Lane, you make your Tottenham debut in the second leg of their Europa League qualification tie against Hearts on August 25 2011. It’s a goalless draw and you miss from the penalty spot. It’s the first of six appearances in the Europa League that season, and you score your first senior goal in a Tottenham shirt in the 4-0 away win at Shamrock Rovers on December 15 2011. You come on as substitute for Jermain Defoe and net that historic goal a minute into injury time.

The following week after the Shamrock victory you and clubmate Ryan Mason join Championship club Millwall on loan. You are named Millwall’s Young Player of the Year for 2011-12 when your seven goals in the final 14 matches steer Millwall away from the threat of relegation. A goal that you score during a training match impresses notorious Millwall hard-man defender, Alan Dunne:

"It was the greatest and most unbelievable goal I ever saw. This was in training, and it was out of nothing. The ball was thrown long by the 'keeper, and Harry's caught it on the volley at an angle where it didn’t look possible that he could score. Our jaws all just dropped. We couldn’t believe it, a goal in a million. If there’s one word to describe his finishing, it was immaculate. The most accurate finisher I’ve ever witnessed. Millwall was the making of him. There’s no tougher crowd in the League, and instead of going into his shell and being intimidated by them he set out to win the fans over with his extraordinary energy. It was obvious he was going places.2

You return to Tottenham and make your Premier League debut when coming on as an 86th minute substitute for Sandro against Newcastle United on August 10 2012 The Geordies win 2-1. A brief loan spell at Norwich City is interrupted when you break a metatarsal bone, an injury that is to come back to haunt you later in your career. Then you are loaned out to Leicester City, and share the substitute’s bench with a young striker called Jamie Vardy:

"There are pictures of Harry and me together on the bench when he was on loan to Leicester. Three years later we were playing for England against Germany. We both came through together and have a lot of respect for each other. He’s a smashing lad"

In all, you make 13 appearances for Leicester and mark your home debut with a goal in a 3-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers on February 26 2013. Back at Tottenham for the start of the 2013-14 season you score the extra-time equaliser in a League Cup ties against Hull and put away your penalty in an 8-7 shoot-out victory. It is on April 7 2014, that you are given your first Premier League start for Tottenham, in a 5–1 win against Sunderland, and you score your first Premier League goal in the 59th minute. It is the first of three goals in successive matches and suddenly the Tottenham fans realise your talent and start chanting that you are ‘one of our own.’ Tim Sherwood is the manager who hands you your first-team debut:

"It was not a gamble giving Harry his chance. I knew all about him from the days when I was coaching him as a youth player and saw his potential. My only problem with him was stopping him training! He always wanted to do extra time to sharpen his skills. He was a coach's dream because he only needed to be told once and it would sink in and he would do what you asked of him out on the pitch. He was quite slight but has worked hard in the gymnasium to give himself a fine physique. Roberto Soldado was considered the No 1 striker, but every day in training Harry was outperforming him. He forced me to choose him ahead of Bobby and he never ever let me or himself down. For me, he was a mix between my former team-mates Teddy Sheringham and Alan Shearer, and I became his biggest fan. I am proud of the fact that I gave him his start. He is continually proving me a good judge."

England come calling at every level and you play for the Under-17s, Under- 19s, Under-20s and Under-21s. In 24 international appearances before your senior debut you score 17 goals. Peter Taylor, a former Tottenham player and England Under-20s coach, says:

"What struck me most about Harry apart from his talent was his attitude. I knew from day one of working with him that here was a likeable lad who was not going to have any regrets at the end of his career because he was going to give it everything he had. He was intelligent and was always asking questions to improve his understanding of the game. An absolute joy to coach."

On the arrival of Mauricio Pochettino as Spurs manager, you move up a notch with your tactical knowledge and goals output. Your all-round game improves to the point where you are not just a goal scorer with either foot and head but also a goal maker with prodigious passes of which any schemer would be proud. In Pochettino’s first full season at Tottenham, you net 31 goals across all competitions, and finish as the Premier League’s second highest scorer, winning the PFA Young Player of the Year award. Over the next two seasons, despite recurring foot problems, you win and then retain the Golden Boot as top Premier League marksman. Goals pour from you in the 2017–18 season when you register a remarkable 41 goals in 48 games. You equal the six-time record held by Steven Gerrard for most Premier League Player of the Month awards and become a regular selection by your peers for the Team of the Year. Mauricio Pochettino:

"Harry is a killer, an assassin. He’s always in practice and he wants to kill the goalkeeper in a football sense. You need to stop him from training because he always wants to train. He is so obsessed with scoring that sometimes, when it is against him, he needs more freedom – not to be obsessed. But he is going to learn and he is starting to be really mature. Harry is English and sometimes the media push him to the sky and paradise and then you put him on the outside. For me, this treatment is very confusing and not easy to understand. If Harry was Italian and playing for the Italian side, he would be a bit more protected because the Italian people are more protective of their players. It’s difficult to push them but when they are there, they try to keep them up there. It’s similar in Spain. Here, it is more up and down. I see parallels between Kane and my excellent former Argentine teammate Gabriel Batistuta. His mentality is similar. Maybe Harry is going to improve even on Batistuta’s stats. I know Batistuta very well and I know Harry. They are of a similar mind, focus and determination. I cannot give him higher praise. We are very lucky to have him at Tottenham."

The Republic of Ireland invite you to become an Irish international because of your father’s Galway birthplace, but you prefer to try to break into the England team. Your patience and belief pays off when Roy Hodgson selects you for the squad to play Lithuania in a Euro-16 match on March 19 2015. You come on as a second-half substitute for Wayne Rooney and score just 80 seconds later, heading in a Raheem Sterling cross. Your international career is up and running.

HARRY "It was the start I had always dreamed of, easily the best moment of my career so far. To represent your country at senior level is the top, and then to score a goal almost as soon as I got on the pitch! It doesn’t get better than that. Hopefully I can keep doing it and it’s the first of many."

After the disappointment of defeat by Iceland in the Euro finals, Roy Hodgson is replaced as England manager by Gareth Southgate, and following the retirement of Wayne Rooney he selects you as captain in the 2018 World Cup qualifier against Scotland at Hampden Park. You score an injury-time equaliser to force a 2-2 draw. On October 5, you net an added-time winner against Slovenia which clinches England’s qualification for the World Cup finals in Russia. Gareth Southgate joins your army of admirers:

"I named Harry as my captain because he sets standards that I know will motivate and inspire his team-mates. He knows only one way to play the game, and that is with 100 per cent energy, concentration and determination. He is one of the greatest goal scorers in the world, and adds to this gift by being an unselfish team player."

With you as a driving captain, England exceed all expectations by reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup, and you win the coveted Golden Boot by finishing as the tournament’s top goal scorer, including a hat-trick against Panama. This makes you only the third England player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup finals match, after Geoff Hurst against West Germany in the 1966 final and Gary Lineker against Poland in 1986. Gareth Southgate is rewarded with an OBE and you receive the MBE.

HARRY "I am busting with pride. It has all been quite surreal, really. What a great year it’s been for Club and country. It’s hard to put into words the way I am feeling. I’m very passionate about our country, very patriotic and I’m very proud that what we achieved in Russia brought everyone together. I’m thankful to all my team-mates, all the coaches at Tottenhamand England, Mauricio, Gareth, all the staff, the guys as well – without them I wouldn’t be scoring the goals and getting these accolades."

Yet another foot injury kept Harry sidelined but he fought back to get fit for the Champions’ League final against Liverpool in 2019.

This Is Your Life, Harry Kane, but it is still in its early days. You have so much more to give and it is a pleasure and a privilege for all Spurs fans to watch your progress and productivity. Long may you reign, King Harry. One of our own.

Spurs Odyssey Trivia Quiz League

The second week of season seven of the Spurs Odyssey Quiz League challenge, and the question is:

Who has won 21 international caps, played 114 times in all competitions for Tottenham and with which club did he gain promotion to the Premier League in 2014 before joining Spurs the following year?

Please email your answer to me at Deadline: midnight this Friday. I will respond to all who take part.

The rules are the same as in previous seasons. I ask a two-pronged question with three points at stake – two for identifying the player and one for the supplementary question. In the closing weeks of the competition I break the logjam of all-knowing Spurs-history experts with a tie-breaking poser that is based on opinion rather than fact. That’s when I become as popular as Donald Trump at a war vets’ gathering.

This year’s prizes for the champion: a Harry Kane framed and signed photo two, books from my Greavsie collection with autographs from Jimmy Greaves, Steve Perryman and Dave Mackay, and, most important of all, a framed certificate announcing the winner as SOQL champion.

Last week’s SOQL question: Who in the 1960-61 Double season wore the No 9 Tottenham shirt six times, and what number shirt did he wear when scoring an FA Cup final goal at Wembley?

Some of you found it harder than I expected and came up with Terry Dyson. But along with reigning Queen Emily Hadjinicolaou, most of you were on the ball with Frank Saul, who wore the No 11 shirt when scoring against Chelsea in the 1967 all-London FA Cup final. He deputised six times at centre-forward for Bobby Smith in the Double season while still only 17.

See you back here same time, same place next week. COYS!

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