Danny Hall Column: Forget managing expectations... hurricane Harry Kane has proved he is able. So why not big him up as the future of English football?

Kell Brook knocks down Jo Jo Dan
Kell Brook knocks down Jo Jo Dan
  • Kane netted on his England debut against Lithuania, and impressed against Italy on Tuesday evening
  • The Spurs youngster has now scored 30 goals in his debut season, and is clearly some player
  • His fairytale story is echoed by Kell Brook, who defended his world title months after being stabbed

Confession time; this columnist has never believed the hype surrounding Harry Kane, and has always found any excuse not to watch England international matches.

But both these things changed on Friday night, when Lithuania came to town.

Kane’s fairy-tale rise to prominence was the main attraction; in an era when football, and footballers, seem more removed from the ordinary man than ever, Kane is a welcome connection. It may not quite excuse the grating ‘He’s one of our own’ chant from Tottenham Hotspur fans, but you can see their point.

Save for a brief relapse, when he was pictured in an Arsenal shirt, Kane is Spurs through-and-through. And 29 goals for his hometown club had earned him his chance in England colours.

Of course, he made it 30. Kane waited almost five minutes on the Wembley touchline, waiting for his introduction; if that built up his nerves, it didn’t show as less than 80 seconds later, he nodded home Raheem Sterling’s sumptuous cross.

The goal itself won’t go down in history; Kane had a relatively open goal to aim at and Lithuania goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis still almost kept it out.

Many of us would back ourselves to score that goal, too. But surely no-one - even the diehard Arsenal fans amongst us - could begrudge him it?

Kane is clearly some player and followed up his England bow with a similarly-impressive showing against Italy on Tuesday night.

Yes, he has off-days - twice this season, he was silenced by Sheffield United’s Chris Basham; another player experiencing something of a renaissance - but by the game, he is improving immeasurably. Sir Geoff Hurst, a fairly decent player himself by all accounts, likens Kane to Germany’s Thomas Müller; ungainly and deceptive. He is quicker than he appears. More skilful than he seems. And with an eye for goal that, arguably, no other England striker can match.

But then there’s the expectation. Oh, won’t someone think of the expectation?

England's Harry Kane celebrates scoring on his international debut

England's Harry Kane celebrates scoring on his international debut

Right on cue, England boss Roy Hodgson was on hand to dampen the mood minutes after the 4-0 Lithuania win: “What is best for the team, what is best for everybody, what is going to make it work? We are not going to hold him back,” he said.

“But on the other hand I hope I have got Harry Kane for a long period to come and I don’t be the one who throws him in and he flies too close to the sun.”

But Kane is no Icarus. He has been flying all season in the Premier League, and his wings have shown no sign of melting just yet.

In a year, he’s gone from scoring against Shamrock Rovers in the Europa League, to being clattered by 76-cap Italian international Giorgio Chiellini. It’s not quite rags to riches but Roy of the Rovers would be proud of Kane’s story.

And with England’s dismal World Cup display of 2014 still fresh in the memory, Kane could be held aloft as a beacon of hope; the focal point of a bright new future alongside the likes of Sterling, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck, Ross Barkley et al.

Instead, in true English fashion, we are seemingly keen to drag him back down again. He’s the top goalscorer in the English Premier League, one of the most technical in the world, and we’re sending him out against Italy reminding him that he’s maybe not as good as everyone thinks he is.

Why not instead tell him that he is, in fact, our bright new hope who can be an England legend for years to come.

Heaven knows we need someone like him; England’s cricket side had Kevin Pietersen, the brash, cocky star who told himself and all who would listen how great he was. Then he went and delivered.

In rugby, Jonny Wilkinson was the opposite; an introvert, yet no less talented, no less great and certainly no less inspiring.

A famous tale in football folklore remembers Patrick manager John Lambie’s response when he was told that his striker, Colin McGlashan, was concussed and didn’t even know who he was: “Tell him he’s Pelé and get him back on.”

Imagine if that was Kane and England? They’d probably tell him he’s Phil Neville to avoid him getting carried away. But the truly good players know how good they are anyway and find a way to cope.

And Kane has certainly proven that he is able.


There is an element of fairytale, too, in the story of Kell Brook, the Shirecliffe lad who reached the top of the boxing world and stayed there at the weekend with his routine title defence against Jo Jo Dan.

Amir Khan reckons no-one in America knows who Brook is; forgetting that he won Shawn Porter’s IBF belt in California, and ignoring the fact his win over Dan was live on US network Showtime.

He has certainly come a long way from his days at Herries School, one of the most underprivileged in the city. I know that because I was there, too; four years below.

So whether it’s long-term foe Khan, Juan Manuel Márquez or even the winner of Floyd Mayweather Jr v Manny Pacquiao, Kell’s next bout will be some occasion.

And, after almost bleeding to death after being attacked with a machete in Tenerife, you suspect he will be keen to make the most of it.