It was Saturday, February 26, 2011 when Harry Kane first appeared at Huddersfield Town’s John Smith’s Stadium.
He was 17 and playing up front on loan at Leyton Orient in a League One match. His red shirt was baggy, his cheeks ruddy in the Yorkshire cold. He scored, predictably, and was also sent off for the only time in his career having come on as a substitute.
It shows Kane didn’t just drop from the sky even if he sometimes plays like it. He has served his apprenticeships around the lower reaches of English football.
And to watch him play now is to have the privilege of seeing the closest thing England has to a world-class player.
Huddersfield, in fairness, have come a long way since that weekend six years ago, appearing here in the top flight for the first time in 45 years. They have reached Premier League standards but the problem is that the skinny teenager who played here in 2011 is now crushing every team under his boots like they were League One dwellers.
There was optimism ahead of the kick-off; Town fans have the ability to put an added spring in their players’ step. That optimism lasted all of about a minute.
That’s how long it took Kane to get clear and fashion his first chance of the game. And Spurs turn so quickly that when three of their players cross the halfway line at pace it strikes fear into the heart of opposition fans – especially with a striker as hot as Kane. He bears down on goal and you don’t only think he’s going to score. You know he’s going to.
That’s what happened with only six minutes on the clock. Kane got clear after Chris Lowe missed his header. The finish at the near post looked routine enough in real time for Kane but the precision shown was rare. Kane makes it look easy.
He was then involved in a sweeping move which brought Spurs their second. He found the excellent Spurs playmaker Christian Eriksen, whose pass was half-blocked into the path of Ben Davies. The biggest compliment you can pay the Welshman is that Tottenham don’t miss Danny Rose one bit.
After giving someone else centre stage for a moment, it was the Kane show all over again. Seizing upon a throw-in, he manoeuvred himself into position at the edge of the Huddersfield box and curled a left-footed drive beyond Jonas Lossl. A smattering of applause could even be perceived from sections of the home support for that one.
He could have had a first-half hat-trick had the goalkeeper not rectified a kicking error inside his own area by extinguishing a chance at the feet of Kane. And just prior to his second and Spurs’ third, he rifled a vicious half-volley that brushed against the roof of the net. The only surprise was that it didn’t go in.
He did, in fact, have the ball in the net again before half-time. Davies’s cross found the England man leaning offside but the agility and accuracy from him was stunning nonetheless.
With those two goals Kane equalled the Premier League total of Cristiano Ronaldo: 84. Kane is moving into the territory where every goal comes with an avalanche of trivia and statistics.
For those keeping count, that’s 13 goals in the month of September. August was arid but what followed was a veritable goal flood. Since scoring for England against Malta on the first day of the month, he has been relentlessly brilliant.
Kane’s road from Huddersfield in 2011 to Huddersfield in 2017 has brought 84 Premier League goals in just 123 Spurs matches. He’s on the path to greatness.
Not many of the 13,000-odd hardy souls who were here that February day might have a recollection of a relatively anonymous kid called Kane scoring or being sent off. He trudged off that day, dejected, with barely a passing glance.
Well, today they stood. They stood and applauded when Mauricio Pochettino called him ashore with five minutes to go. It was a mark of respect from an audience who are now sure they are witnessing greatness.
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