2014/15 Moments: Harry Kane’s face at Villa Park

Harry Kane fk

Aston Villa 1 Tottenham 2, November 2nd 2014.

Harry Kane is such an unlikely hero.  As recently as mid-2014, he was the third-choice forward in Mauricio Pochettino’s squad and was assumed only to be relevant within Europa League and other second-priority competitions.  A year on, he had transformed himself into the essential piece of Pochettino’s jigsaw and his rich goal-scoring form had become the mastic to many a Tottenham weakness.

Kane’s evolution has its roots in last season and in Tim Sherwood’s brief managerial spell.  Sherwood may drastically and frequently overstate his own role in Kane’s progression but he was the first Spurs head-coach to afford him significant game-time and it would be highly-revisionist to deny that.

Still, the truest progression arrived under Pochettino and Kane’s early-season European outings created a swell of support for his weekend inclusion - a conviction that, 21 Premier League goals later, would be proven overwhelmingly correct.  Over time, the momentum behind Kane would grow and grow and would eventually lead him to the England squad.  With each goal he scored, the case against him became harder to argue and the detractors cheerfully began to abandon their position.

It was exhilarating and it was a movement which, really, began on that afternoon at Villa Park in early November.

That was Tottenham at their most vulnerable.  Between November and January they were frequently awful, but the win over Aston Villa represented a turning point of sorts and the start of a period in which they started to pick up points without necessarily earning them.

Villa Park was the start of that: it was Tottenham at their absolute worst, but it was the precursor for the games which would follow and the uncanny habit of stealing points from more deserving opponents.

Pochettino’s side had laboured all afternoon; defensively generous and unimaginative beyond the halfway line, they somehow stumbled to parity via Nacer Chadli’s back-post tap-in.

Six minutes later, this happened:

Because it was the first goal of Kane’s season, it will always be significant - but that’s not really why it’s an enduring memory of 2014/15.  Late-winners always linger in the air and, yes, it was a three-points that Tottenham badly needed at the time, but both the detail within the goal and the actual act of scoring are really secondary.

Instead, it’s the look on Harry Kane’s face after the ball hits the net that we all remember.

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 15.21.42

Kane is not just a goal-scorer at Tottenham, he’s more than that.  His footballing progression was wonderful to watch, but his growing emotional bond with the club’s supporters was arguably more so.  True, one facilitated the other, but successful players - even successful academy players - seldom enjoy that kind of rapport and rarely possess the unifying qualities that Kane would radiate for the next seven months.

Villa Park was that genesis of that process.

There was something fitting in the way that Kane ran to the fans that afternoon.  Of course, it’s not unusual to see last-minute winners being celebrated in the same way, but there’s typically a tokenism to it which makes it more gesture-than-genuine. Similarly, while players running to their supporters has become one of the game’s stock images, that’s typically an affected an act - as if, really, the player is using those fans as little more than a tool for ego-inflation.

That wasn’t the case here: Kane, bursting with joy and excitement, sprinted to the corner with an obvious emotional intent and, beyond the sporting significance of what had happened, it was an enormously affecting moment.  He’d spent much of the afternoon on the substitutes’ bench, listening to the traveling support sing his name and when did get on - and when he scored - his first instinct was to run gleefully to those who had insisted on his introduction.

Before his caught and mobbed, he really ignores his teammates and as a consequence - for those first few seconds after the goal - that moment seems to be more about him and those watching from the stands than it does league tables or points or even team victory.

It was the first flutter-of-the-heart moment, the first point at which it became obvious that Kane felt the game in a slightly different way.  The ‘one of our own’ chants aren’t just a way of filling stadium-silence, there’s a real resonance attached to them - and that comes, in part, from that filthy day in the Midlands.

Quite lovely; the velvet rope was unhooked and the division between the stands and the pitch briefly disappeared.

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3 Comments on "2014/15 Moments: Harry Kane’s face at Villa Park"

  1. SpurredoninDublin | Jul 23, 2015 at 6:52 pm |

    @DaveE.

    I am mystified at all the people who imply that Levy is always looking to cash in on the jewels in the crown. Look at the mega money transfers away from Spurs, and it is invariably the players who want the move. That’s why you get players like Berbatov and Modric almost going on strike to force a move.

    As for Kane, time will clearly tell. I would not blame him for wanting to move on because there is no way that Spurs can currently match the wages paid Manure and RM. Manure had four players on £250k per week. To put that in perspective, these four players earned slightly less than that 50% of the entire Spurs wage bill which includes Levy and Poch’s salaries. On the other hand, I have this view of Kane in particular, that at this moment in time, though he is not amongst the highest paid at WHL, he probably is more than happy struggling by on £30/40K a week.

    They are very much a dying brred, but I remember Alan Smith of Leeds who was reduced to tears when he agreed to be sold to Manure in order to keep the wolf from the Leeds door. Occasionally, football throws up another Alan Smith.

  2. There is no doubt that Harry Kane has a strong bond with the Spurs supporters. However, if maintains his goal scoring record at the end of next season it will be interesting to see how Kane and Levy react when major Champions League teams come calling.

  3. SpurredoninDublin | Jul 23, 2015 at 3:41 pm |

    I think the evidence is quite clear that Poch did not rate Kane, and he got his chance because the other two choices were pretty dire. Most Spurs fans having seen what Kane did when given his chance by Sherwood, were surprised that Kane was not in the starting line-up. He didn’t so much “progress” under Poch as make him sit up and take the notice that he should have done in the beginning.

    And in case anyone thinks I am being wise after the event, I will freely admit that when I first watched Kane, I never rated him, but after his first three games for Sherwood, I realised my mistake.

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