As prolific as Harry Kane’s penalty record is – 47 scored from 55 taken – two of the biggest nights of his career saw the forward miss spot-kicks.
First an occasion we all remember: July’s semi-final of Euro 2020, when Denmark keeper Kasper Schmeichel saved the England captain’s effort before he gleefully slotted in the rebound.
And secondly, a night which will stick long in the mind of the Tottenham striker if not the rest of us: his competitive debut for the club, in a Europa League play-off against Hearts over 10 years ago.
Harry Kane won a penalty on his competitive debut for Tottenham against Hearts in 2011
The 18-year-old stood up to the plate to take the spot-kick but it was saved at White Hart Lane
A landmark evening for the then-18-year-old, starting for the first time under Harry Redknapp. Yet Hearts keeper Jamie MacDonald – having upended the teenager in the box – then saved Kane’s spot-kick to his right. Party spoilt.
For Kane, it was far from the dream debut scenario he would have envisaged.
What’s more, Kane had to wait four more months for his first competitive goal for Spurs, away to Shamrock Rovers in December. But what it started was a 10-year journey inconceivable to many. Except, perhaps, to the man himself.
HARRY KANE OUT ON LOAN
2010-11: Leyton Orient (L1) – 18 apps, 5 goals
2011-12: Millwall (C’Ship) – 27 apps, 9 goals
2012-13: Norwich (PL) – 5 apps, 0 goals
2012-13: Leicester (C’Ship) – 15 apps, 2 goals
Of course, Kane’s status as a Tottenham legend in recent years could have been starkly different if things had worked out across north London.
He famously joined Arsenal’s youth academy at the age of eight, before being let go after one season for, in the words of then-head of academy Liam Brady, being a ‘bit chubby’ and not ‘very athletic.’
Yet Tottenham – following a period at Watford – saw something in Kane which has transpired to be a stroke of genius.
Despite the goals and accolades that have followed since Kane’s breakthrough in 2014, it wasn’t all plain-sailing for the forward as he looked to establish himself in the first team.
Before his debut at Spurs in August 2011, Kane was sent out on loan to nearby Leyton Orient in League One – along with Ryan Mason and Andros Townsend.
Anthony Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn, son of then-Leyton Orient owner Barry Hearn, has commented since how Kane’s achievements are ‘amazing’ given what he saw of him back in the day
‘Harry Kane was a little bit slow,’ the Matchroom supremo said.
Kane went out on loan to Leyton Orient in 2011 before his debut came the following season
‘We just felt that he was probably going to end up with Leyton Orient or those kinds of levels.
‘It’s amazing to see what he has achieved.’
Five goals in 18 appearances isn’t too bad, but is certainly nothing to set the pulses racing.
Back to Spurs and, following his debut, Kane featured five times in the Europa League in the 2011-12 season, scoring his first goal in Ireland against Shamrock Rovers in December 2011.
Kane scored his first goal for Tottenham in Europe against Shamrock Rovers in December 2011
But he was then shipped out again, this time up a division compared to Orient at Championship side Millwall.
He scored nine times in 27 games, and was widely praised by manager Kenny Jackett in the years that followed.
‘I have never seen a young player with a capacity to work like Harry. So in that way I am not surprised he has gone on to do what he has done,’ Jackett said in 2017.
‘Harry had been a player we had tried to get previously. We’d watched him a number of times and we’d seen he was a very good technical player with a terrific touch who had always scored plenty of goals coming through the youth ranks.
‘Good promising young centre-forwards are very hard to get hold off and so we were very pleased to sign him.
The striker, this time out on loan at Championship side Millwall, scored nine goals in 27 games
‘His work rate right from the start was extremely high – and I don’t just mean in matches.
‘His work rate in training sessions and his determination to improve were very, very high.
‘He was consistently the best player in training, always wanted to do extra and a physical capacity to work hard. When he played it was no problem for him to train hard the next day.’
Yet, despite the plaudits, Kane still had to bide his time to break into the first-team setup at Tottenham.
Kane also had less fruitful loan stints at Leicester City (left) and Norwich City (right)
KANE’S RECORD AT TOTTENHAM
• 2011-12: 6 apps, 1 goal
• 2012-13: 1 app, 0 goals
• 2013-14: 19 apps, 4 goals
• 2014-15: 51 apps, 31 goals
• 2015-16: 50 apps, 28 goals
• 2016-17: 38 apps, 35 goals
• 2017-18: 48 apps, 41 goals
• 2018-19: 40 apps, 24 goals
• 2019-20: 34 apps, 24 goals
• 2020-21: 49 apps, 33 goals
• 2021-22: 21 apps, 9 goals (as of Dec 5)
TOTAL: 357 apps, 230 goals
A barren loan spell at Norwich in the Premier League – five games, zero goals – and just two goals in 13 appearances for Leicester City in the Championship grabbed no headlines.
Yet once Kane got a sniff, a glimmer, an inkling of hope at his boyhood club, he capitalised like no one else before him.
At the beginning of the 2014-15 season, under new boss Mauricio Pochettino, Kane was given a consistent starting role in the Europa League, scoring seven goals in nine appearances in the competition.
He then also thrived in the Premier League, scoring 21 times, as Spurs finished fifth – two points above Liverpool.
In March, he made his England debut under Roy Hodgson, scoring on debut with his first touch against Lithuania at Wembley.
Pretty rapidly, Kane was becoming the star of the show.
Yet he was labelled, by opposition fans and some pundits, as a ‘one-season wonder’ following his breakthrough campaign.
What followed? Two golden boots, leading England at a major tournament, guiding Tottenham to the Champions League final and two second-placed finishes in a row.
Speaking in late 2017, Kane said that label was what spurred him on to bigger and better things: ‘I’ve always said that when people doubt me I want to prove them wrong.
‘Whether it’s at a young age or now, that’s just my mindset, something in me since a young age.
Mauricio Pochettino gave Kane his big break at Tottenham – and the striker duly delivered
Kane won two Premier League golden boots in a row – he won a third too in the 2020-21 season
‘I’ll keep getting better, keep trying to improve. It’s a funny song for our fans to sing and I’ll keep doing it for 9, 10 seasons and see where it takes me.’
Well, four years on and Kane’s goalscoring feats have not wavered.
In his first major tournament as England captain, Kane won the golden boot at the 2018 World Cup and scored a hat-trick in the group-stage against Panama.
His international goal-scoring record is also sumptuous. In just 67 caps since his debut over six years ago, he has scored 48 goals – and is now just six away from overtaking Wayne Rooney as his country’s record goalscorer.
England reached the 2018 World Cup semi-finals and broke their penalty record in the last-16
Kane won the golden boot after scoring six goals during a memorable summer in Russia
Yet one stark absence of accolades remain: trophies.
Ten years on from his debut, he has no major silverware to his name.
He has come close too. A second-placed finish in the Premier League, two appearances in the EFL Cup final and of course the 2019 Champions League final, when Kane was brought back by Pochettino to start despite a lack of match-fitness.
And following England’s run to the Euro 2020 final in the summer, Kane’s patience – club-wise – cracked.
Yet Kane has had near-misses in his hunt for trophies, like the 2019 Champions League final
The striker has also come close in the League Cup, missing out to Manchester City in April
Speaking after the London Football awards in April, Kane told the Evening Standard: ‘Individual awards are great, they are fantastic achievements.
‘When I look back at the end of my career, I will go over it and take in a little bit more. The goal right now as a player is to win team trophies.
‘As much as this [award] is great, I want to be winning the biggest prizes that there is to offer as a team and we are not quite doing that.
‘It is one of those [situations], it is bittersweet. I would rather be winning team trophies and this award. It is what it is.’
It is what it is, he says. Well in the summer, his future was the subject of much debate as he made it known he wanted to leave his boyhood club for Premier League champions Manchester City.
Yet despite much courting, and a £100m-plus offer from City, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy stood firm. Predominantly due to a contract not expiring until 2024, Tottenham were under no pressure to sell – and Kane was going nowhere.
The 28-year-old forward has now been Tottenham’s leading man for over seven years
The 28-year-old stayed put. And, ironically, he has struggled in the months since.
Sunday’s strike against Liverpool – when he was also lucky to escape a red card for a studs-up lunge on Andy Robertson – was his first home Premier League goal since May.
Could that be a turning point this season, under an undoubtedly world-class manager in Antonio Conte after the short reign of Nuno Espirito Santo?
Kane’s penalty in the semi-final against Denmark led England to the final of Euro 2020
We shall see. What is not in doubt, however, is that if Kane’s next 10 years is as surprising and individually illustrious as the last 10, a first major trophy cannot be too far away.
‘For sure, if I finish my career as Premier League top goalscorer and, hopefully, England top goalscorer, that’d be incredible — but it wouldn’t feel as good if I didn’t have a lot of team trophies to go with that,’ he added earlier this year.
At 28, he still has plenty of time on his side. What’s more, proving his doubters wrong is actually Kane’s speciality. Here’s to the next decade, Harry.
Kane leads the celebrations at Wembley in a tournament which ended in eventual heartbreak
HARRY KANE’S NEAR-MISSES
Premier League, 2nd: 2015-16
Champions League, runner-up: 2018-19
EFL Cup, runner-up: 2014-15, 2020-21
Euro 2020, runner-up
2018-19 Nations League, 3rd place
2018 World Cup, 4th place