'Harry Kane scores goals but you can’t stop him doing it'
24 June 2017|Tottenham Hotspur
Clive Allen saw something in a raw 16-year-old striker who just wanted to practice, practice, practice back at our old Spurs Lodge training ground in 2009 and 2010.
“He just wanted to work every day on his goalscoring and finishing. He scored goals. That’s what I remember, games and goals.”
That youngster scored 17 goals in 20 appearances for the Under-18s in his first full season in the Academy, 2009-10.
He’s still putting in the hours as well, day after day, practice, practice, practice.
He’s also won the Golden Boot twice on the trot.
And he’s on 99 Spurs goals already.
Oh, and he’s been England captain this month.
Above: Harry Kane with England manager Gareth Southgate.
Clive knew all about Harry Kane. So did Jermain Defoe, who worked overtime in those finishing sessions as well during the week, before banging in goal after goal at the weekend.
No Spurs player has scored more goals in a season than Clive’s incredible 49 in 1986-87. Only four players have scored more goals for Spurs that Jermain’s 143.
“Jermain was then and remains a great example, he wanted to practice, wanted to score goals, he loved that feeling and Harry bought into that at a very young age,” said Clive, who hit 84 for us between 1984-88.
“That’s what drives him – goals, goals, goals. He wants to keep improving and long may that continue. Practice makes perfect and that’s what he strives for.
“When Harry came in as a 16-year-old he just wanted to work every day, particularly on his goalscoring and finishing and we worked at it.
“We had numerous competitions in those days and by hook or by crook I’d make sure I won, but when he started to beat me I knew he was on his way!
“His attitude, work-rate…he deserves everything he’s got and that’s one of the biggest compliments I can pay. He was focused and knew what he wanted and went about getting there with hard work.”
It’s well documented that Harry still had a long way to go back then.
He made his debut in the Europa League campaign of 2011-12 (six appearances, one goal) but had loan spells at Leyton Orient, Millwall and Leicester before making his breakthrough at the end of 2013-14 and then taking off the following season.
“There are no guarantees from any age, however talented you are as a youngster, but Harry had that ability to score goals,” said Clive. “In his younger days, he scored goals and that’s what I remember, games and goals.
“He might not have had the best game but if a chance presented itself, he was very good at being in the right position at the right time. He honed those skills, his goalscoring ability and that has continued to improve. He’s also very consistent and if you want any player to have a chance in a key phase of a game, you’d want that chance to fall to Harry because there is a big chance he will score.
Above: Harry celebrates a goal against Swansea with Heung-Min Son in December, 2016.
“What people need to recognise is that sometimes, chances are few and far between, so you have to make sure you take it. Miss one, and you need to score the next one – and there’s another key thing, once you’ve missed, it’s gone and onto the next one. You have to be ready for the next one and Harry is a great example of being able to do that.
“He might miss a chance – you can’t score every time – but you know full well that he’s ready for the next one. That’s why all that practice, all that repetition on the training ground is so important.”
‘You can’t stop him’
So, seven years on, what does Clive see in Harry now?
“What you’ve got with Harry now is undoubtedly good technique both sides, which he’s worked at, physically he’s developed as well and one of his greatest strengths is his mentality.
“You can see how focused he is, he doesn’t get irritated, players are trying hard to stop him now, defenders know what he does, they will be analysing him every week, where his goals come from, how he scores, what areas of the pitch he gets his goals from, yet you can’t stop him. I think that’s his greatest attribute. Everyone knows that Harry Kane scores goals but you can’t stop him doing it.
“It’s about confidence and putting in the hours of practice to know that when the chances are there, you are going to score. There were times when I didn’t have a particularly good game but I had a chance and took it.
“Harry’s got that now. He can have a quiet period but if he has a chance, he’ll take it. The quiet periods won’t affect his finishing and that’s a great strength as well.”
‘I had Glenn Hoddle, Harry has similar relationships’
Clive can see similarities between the 1986-87 team – seen historically as one of the Club’s best – and the class of 2017. Clive hit 49 goals that season as we finished third in the old First Division, runners-up in the FA Cup and semi-finalists in the League Cup. So near, yet so far.
Harry’s 35 goals in 2016-17 helped us rip up Club records in the Premier League including finishing second, most wins, most goals scored and most points.
Mauricio Pochettino also used a 3-4-3 system more with Eric Dier dropping into the back three, our full-backs tearing down both flanks and a great understanding between Harry, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Heung-Min Son. Indeed, Harry, Dele and Sonny all scored over 20 goals in all competitions, the first time that has been achieved in one season at Spurs.
Famously, David Pleat changed systems during the 1986-87 season to a 4-5-1 with Clive spearheading the attack. That system was introduced at Oxford in November, 1986, and brought the best not just out of Clive but the likes of Glenn Hoddle in a free role, Chris Waddle and Ossie Ardiles. Add Gary Mabbutt and Richard Gough as a central defensive pairing in front of Ray Clemence and you can see the all-round strength of that team.
Above: Clive on target in the 1987 FA Cup Final.
“It was a system that suited me,” said Clive, who scored a hat-trick on the opening day and kept scoring right to the end, opening the scoring in the FA Cup Final in May.
“Again, as a goalscorer, yes you get the accolades but you also understand, realise and appreciate what goes into that, getting the chances, the players you are playing with and I see a lot of similarities between the 1986-87 team and the team last season, players who can see a pass to give you a chance, players who one-on-one can go by a defender and open up space, all those things contribute to you getting opportunities as a striker, then you have to get into the right places at the right times and Harry does that particularly well.
“When players get on the ball you know that you can make certain runs and players will pick that run up. For me, I had Glenn Hoddle, the greatest passer of a ball you could ever wish for – as soon as the ball was at his feet, I knew that if I made the run, the pass would be delivered. Harry has that relationship with a number of players in this current team and they play a big role in what he does.”
Can Harry topple 49?
It’s the target for any striker at Spurs – could Harry do it? He scored 35 in all competitions in 2016-17 despite two lengthy spells on the sidelines, ruling him out of eight Premier League matches. Considering he scored seven goals in his last two league games, who knows?
“1986-87 was a phenomenal season and one I’ll never forget,” said Clive. “Whether or not anyone beats it… I’ll be honest, I hope they don’t! But if anyone can, it will be Harry, for sure. He’s in the best place to score goals – anything is possible!”