Home-grown hero status no extra pressure as Kane eyes biggest prize
He is the poster boy for youth development in English football, but Harry Kane says that he feels no pressure at being held up by the game as one of the diminishing numbers of native players who have made it from academy to first team in the Premier League.
The Tottenham Hotspur striker was voted the Professional Footballers' Association Young Player of the Year by his peers on Sunday night and, in the aftermath, he said that he wanted one day to win the PFA Player of the Year award picked up by Chelsea's Eden Hazard.
"Why not?" he said. "I've done well to get where I am now. But it doesn't stop. I keep trying to improve, keep trying to work hard, see what I can get better at."
He has played just twice for England but already Football Association chairman Greg Dyke is holding Kane up as the archetypal success story in development football. It is a role Kane is willing to accept.
"It makes me feel proud. That's what I've always wanted to become," he said. "I've always wanted to become a top footballer in English football. I'm getting there.
"People say, 'Is it extra responsibility?' It isn't. I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing and, hopefully, that sets a good example for the younger generation coming through.
"That's all I can do, affect the way I play, the way I improve and, hopefully, that helps others."
Kane says that it was a fellow Chingford boy, David Beckham, who he counts as his first hero. Kane met him a couple of times as a child and then again when Beckham trained with Spurs in 2011.
That quest for self-improvement led to a conversation with Frank Lampard Snr, who recommended Kane buy some running spikes to run drills to improve his speed, an exercise that Frank Lampard Jnr regarded as fundamental to his development.
"I was only young at the time," Kane said. "It's a funny story, really. I ordered some spikes online. They wouldn't fit. I realised they were javelin shoes. So my mum sent them back! I got the proper spikes, did some training in them. Looking back now, that is stuff that helped me.
"I've always had the brain to be a footballer but the physical side wasn't always there. I had to work hard. As I've got older I've got taller and naturally stronger. I definitely worked harder at that than any other part of my game to get better.
"To see it come through as it has this season is great." (© Independent News Service)