Harry Kane’s meteoric rise sees him match Messi and Ronaldo

Author: JONATHAN WILSON | SPECIAL TO ARAB NEWSFri, 2017-12-29 18:21ID: 1514566618884720300LONDON: It was almost exactly three years ago, on New Year’s Day 2015, that Harry Kane finally began to be taken seriously, scoring twice and playing with an unexpected menace as Tottenham beat Chelsea 5-3. It is fair to say that even at that point, nobody imagined that three years later Kane would be outstripping Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.Nobody, of course, is saying that he is a better player than either Messi or Ronaldo — although his club manager Mauricio Pochettino continues to insist that he belongs in the same bracket. And statistics that deal with a calendar year always seem a little forced in football. Who, after all, knew that Alan Shearer held the record for most Premier League goals in a calendar year before Kane took his record with the hat-trick against Southampton on Boxing Day?But still, to score 56 goals in 2017, to outstrip both Messi and Ronaldo and end seven years of domination by the eternal duo, is a remarkable achievement which suggests just how extraordinary Kane’s goalscoring this year has been. To hit eight hattricks in a 12-month spell, six of them in the league, is a level of performance beyond reason. Already, aged just 24, he is tenth on the all-time list of Tottenham goalscorers.What is most inexplicable is that it is so hard to pinpoint what makes Kane good. The reaction after that New Year’s Day game against Chelsea was a mixture of skepticism and amusement. Kane had scored three goals in six league games the previous season and had been prolific in the Europa League but still, nobody was convinced.He was almost flamboyantly ordinary. He did not look like a star. His appearance was of a minor RAF officer in a Second World War film, doomed to be tragically shot down on his final mission before a spell of extended leave. He was not noticeably quick. He was not noticeably tall. He was not noticeably powerful. He did not take the breath away with his close technical skill. He was not dominant in the air. He is still none of those things. And yet, as the months have gone by and his goalscoring has continued unabated — apart from his odd inability to score in August — it has become apparent that he is very special indeed.What has become apparent is that Kane has an astonishing football brain. Rather than being exceptional at any one striker’s attribute, he is quite good at all of them. But what makes him truly dangerous is his reading of the game, his capacity to find space, his instincts for what to do in any give situation. The goal with which he completed his hat-trick against Southampton on Boxing Day was typical as he delayed his shot, letting the ball keep rolling, taking him beyond Maya Yoshida’s stretch and persuading Fraser Forster to commit himself before dinking the ball over him.But to say that decision-making capacity is an instinct perhaps does Kane a disservice. It is to an extent innate and there are others who will never have his clarity of vision, but it is also something he has strived to improve. It is not just that he works hard; it is that he is inquisitive and open to new ideas about how to improve. A year ago he decided he could be fitter, and on Jan. 1 appointed a nutritionist who lives in his family home six days a week ensuring his diet is as good as it can be. His added strength and sharpness this season — as seen best, perhaps, in his burst through the Borussia Dortmund defense to score in the Champions League — is probably in part the result of that.On afternoons off, he works on his finishing. For a long time he focused on low hard strikes with his right foot. Then, Spurs’ Under-15 coach Bradley Allen asked why he always came onto his right side. In the summer, Kane began to work on scoring with his left foot: eight of his 18 Premier League goals this season have been scored with his left.Kane may not catch the eye like Messi and Ronaldo, but his relentless desire for self-improvement has turned him into a staggeringly successful player.Stat box to be included:Harry Kane’s goal tally2013-2014: 19 appearances — 4 goals2014-2015: 51 appearances — 31 goals2015-2016: 50 appearances — 28 goals2016-2017: 38 appearances — 35 goals
Main category: Sports

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