‘Didn’t seem very athletic’- Former Norwich player open up on first impressions of Spurs star

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Image: SpursWeb

Harry Kane may now be recognised universally as one of the best strikers in world football but the England captain’s journey to the top was anything but straight forward.

He certainly was not a golden boy while coming through the ranks at Spurs, with not many people tipping him to go on to achieve superstardom.

In fact, at one point, it looked like he could struggle to forge a career at the top level after the striker failed to make an impression in a couple of his loan spells.

The striker’s loan at Norwich was one such spell where he struggled to get into the team and did not particularly stand out when he got opportunities.

The Athletic has spoken to several of the former Canaries stars who were at Carrow Road at the time and they admitted that they could not have foreseen how the Tottenham star would evolve into one of the best in the world.

In fact, many pointed out that Kane did not have too much going for him apart from his finishing at the time and that the striker was still unsure about what his best position was.

Here’s what some of the former Norwich players told The Athletic about their impressions of Kane:

Grant Holt (captain & striker): “Someone came in, said ‘This is Harry from Spurs’ and that was about it really. We’d lots of people in on loan before and if they add to the squad, that’s the important thing. But it’s my job to stay in the team. We were just happy to have him and he was the kind of lad that would blend into any squad. He wasn’t the most vocal but joined in the banter, could have a joke in training. With the forwards, it always becomes competitive.

“The Harry Kane I see now is the finisher I saw then but he now holds the ball up like he could never do when he was with us. When you’re 19 you don’t really know what you are. The version of me at 19 as a striker was completely different to me at 30 at Norwich. That’s a skill in itself, learning off people, and Harry’s had some really good centre-forwards to learn off at Spurs. That’s how the best become the best. They’ve already got talent and skill. They nurture it and add to it.”

Steve Morison (striker): “(In) finishing drills he was unbelievable. He had all the different types of finishes. He just didn’t seem very athletic, wasn’t overly strong. Just really good at putting the ball in the net. Arguably for a striker that’s all that matters but when you look at him now, he’s everything. The complete striker.

“You think of the loan moves some people have, he was getting them to the Premier League. He was very quiet. If he didn’t come in, you wouldn’t have noticed he wasn’t there.”

Simeon Jackson (forward): “I remember not really knowing what his ideal position was. I wasn’t sure whether he was a target man, a No 10, whether he played on the shoulder. He was almost a wild card. I think that’s where he was in his career as well, trying to figure out what his main strengths were and how he could implement them in games.

“He gave us lots of options. I thought he’d be another target man and I could play off him, but he wanted to come short and get on the ball, run with it as well. You could tell he was figuring it out.

“Grant and Steve were the head honchos, and Harry was really respectful. Sometimes you can have kids who come in on loan and are a little bit big-time, having themselves. But he wasn’t that. He just slotted in and got on with his work. We got a little insight into his ethic in that short time.”

Russell Martin (defender): “He had that Premier League chop, where you shift it off one foot and hit it with the other with no real back lift. He did it to me one day in training, and then to Elliott Ward. We laughed about that a few times.”

Leon Barnett (defender): “He didn’t really live up to what I thought he’d be. I knew he was right-footed and in training he didn’t have much pace, but I knew I couldn’t let him shoot. Especially when he gets close to the box. He was one of those strikers that would always shoot and for whatever reason, it would go through your legs or might come off your shin and go in.”

Andrew Surman (midfielder): “He was here for such a short period, it wasn’t one of those things where you got to know him. He was in, there for a bit, then he was gone. You don’t really realise until he bursts properly on the scene that you remember he came on loan here. And then you’re like, ‘Well, he was a good finisher…’.”

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This goes on to show how it is almost impossible to predict a player’s growth trajectory over his formative years. While some youngsters who are tipped to achieve stardom as teenagers completely disappear from the radar when they are in their early twenties, others like Kane are often late bloomers.

However, this does confirm one thing we have always known about the England captain – his dedication to his craft and his single-mindedness to make it at the top level were second to none. Kane’s rise shows how mental attributes are just as important as natural talent when it comes to helping young players reach their potential.

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