'Players were fighting for their livelihoods' - Harry on his loan spell at Millwall
11 March 2017|Tottenham Hotspur
Harry Kane will come face-to-face with the club that he readily admits turned him into a man on Sunday - but there will be no room for sentiment with an FA Cup semi-final place at stake.
Currently the top scorer in the Premier League with 19 goals, Harry was a fresh-faced 18-year-old when he joined Millwall on loan in January, 2012, still unsure at that time whether he had what it took to make it to the top.
Goals flowed regularly for him while playing for our Academy and Development squad teams and he signed professionally for us in July, 2010, before embarking on his first taste of senior football with Leyton Orient six months later.
Five goals in 18 appearances for the League One side was a decent return for the Walthamstow-born forward and, at the start of the 2011-12 campaign, he was handed his Spurs debut by Harry Redknapp in a Europa League play-off game against Hearts here at the Lane.
He featured five more times in the competition, scoring the first of his 88 goals for us in a 4-0 win over Shamrock Rovers, but Harry wanted more game time to hone his talents and prove his credentials.
And so he headed to the New Den...
“I’d been playing a few games at the time, had a taste of it at Orient and then in the Europa League here, but when it came to the January, we felt I needed more regular football,” explained Harry.
“We looked at some Championship clubs and Millwall was one that came up. They were in a relegation battle and I had the option to move to a couple of clubs higher up the table, but I wasn’t guaranteed to play enough for them and at that stage of my career, I needed games.
“Millwall manager Kenny Jackett persuaded me to join. He just said that I’d play games for them, that I’d learn a lot by joining and it would help me grow up as a footballer.
“I wanted to play in front of crowds, to get more experience and score goals and that’s why I chose Millwall. At the time it just felt like the right choice and that certainly proved to be the case.”
Under Jackett’s guidance, the Lions were very much fighting for their Championship survival at the time of Kane’s arrival. They were two places above the drop zone and Harry’s debut came away to Bristol city, the team immediately below them in the table. Millwall lost to a 93rd-minute goal and were thumped 6-0 at home by Birmingham City in Harry’s next game.
Slowly but surely though, they turned things around and Kane’s goals played a massive part in helping them avoid relegation. He may only have scored nine times in the 27 matches that he played for the Lions, but they never lost when he found the target – winning six and drawing one of the seven league games in which he scored as they went on an amazing run to climb up the table and end the campaign in 16th position.
“We had ups and downs during my time there but we finished the season strong, I scored a few goals and helped to keep them in the division," he reflected. "It really was a great learning curve for me, a fantastic experience.
“I was playing alongside people who were literally fighting for their livelihoods, whose contracts would have been cut had they got relegated and it would have affected them and their families.
“It hit home that I was playing professional football for people’s lives and I learnt an awful lot."
Read this interview in full in Sunday's matchday programme...
DON’T MISS SUNDAY’S OFFICIAL MATCHDAY PROGRAMME!
Pick up your copy of our official matchday programme at the Millwall game on Sunday.
It’s £3.50 for 100 pages, including...
- Main feature interview with ex-Millwall loanee Harry Kane
- Mauricio Pochettino's exclusive column
- Talking all things Moussa Sissoko in 'Centre of Attention'
- A look at our seven previous London derby FA Cup quarter-finals
- The surprising number of Spurs loanees who've played for Millwall
- A chat with Teddy Sheringham about his time at The Den
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