OLIVER HOLT: Harry Kane deserves to be recognised as a legend

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Soon, more records will fall. For now, all the talk is of Harry Kane and Jimmy Greaves and the record of 266 goals for Spurs that the two men now share. But when Kane scores three more top-flight goals, he will move past the mark of 201 set by Denis Law. Law was known as The King at Old Trafford. There is a statue of him outside Manchester United’s stadium. Kane is keeping the company of legends now. It is about time we recognised that one of the jewels of English football history is still in his prime and playing in our midst.

As Kane continues to glide alongside the greatest goalscorers in the game for his country and for his club, as records seem to fall with every swing of his right boot, as we talk about 53 for England and 266 for Spurs and Alan Shearer’s 260 that waits out there in the future, Kane plays from week to week like a prophet in his own land, still not given the respect he deserves in this country, in particular.

Too often, he is damned with faint praise. Too often, it seems we do not quite realise what we have in him and the special talent that is in our midst. Because the truth is that, if narrow club jealousies are put aside, Kane deserves to be considered not just as one of the best strikers in the world but as one of the best players in the world.  

Harry Kane has moved level with Jimmy Greaves as Tottenham’s all-time top scorer

Maybe we have got blasé because Kane just keeps on scoring. But he is a phenomenon. We rightly revere forwards like Nat Lofthouse, Stan Mortensen, Shearer and Gary Lineker as masters of their craft and players who hold a special place in our football history. Kane has surpassed all of them in goals scored for England and is closing in fast on the few that remain ahead of him at club level, too.

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His goal for Spurs against Fulham on Monday night was his 266th for his club, equalling the mark set by Greaves. If he is not rested, he may break the record at Deepdale, one of the great old venues of English football, when Tottenham play Preston North End there in the FA Cup on Saturday.

He is still adding to his legend every week. The next time he scores for England, he will stand alone, above Wayne Rooney, as the country’s leading scorer. The next time he scores in the Premier League, it will be his 200th goal in the competition. Whenever you get to watch Kane play live, you have got one of the best tickets in football. Way back when you could pay on the door to nudge through the turnstile, fans would have queued round the block for a chance to see him play.

Kane will soon go past Wayne Rooney's record of 53 goals for England

Kane will soon go past Wayne Rooney’s record of 53 goals for England

It is indisputable that his reputation has suffered because he has played his entire career at Spurs at a time when they have only rarely challenged for the top honours both domestically and abroad and when he has been denied the oxygen of showpiece occasions. There has been no place for Kane among the shark suits and fake smiles at the court of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, otherwise known as the Ballon d’Or ceremony.

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Kane has always somehow been unfashionable. He has always been an outsider in that gilded world of elite footballers. He has never quite been granted the respect afforded to players like Robert Lewandowski or Antoine Griezmann, say. Much of that, too, is down to the fact that he has not graced the stages they have graced or played regularly in the latter stages of the Champions League.

Kane bears comparison with any of them. He is not just the best number 9 that England has. He is the best number 10 that England has, too. Watch Kane and you see a player who strikes the ball as cleanly and as viciously as any forward you ever glimpsed. Watch Kane and you see one of the best creative talents in the game, a player with vision and craft and touch and an intuitive awareness of space and the movement of others.

Yes, he scores goals. Lots and lots of goals. He has been the Premier League’s leading goalscorer three times already and when he is not the leading goalscorer, he is not far behind. But he is so much more than a goalscorer. He exhibits the selfishness of a striker sometimes but he has the instincts of a team player, too.

Kane does not get the same recognition as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi at Ballon d'Or ceremonies, but he has established himself as a modern-day legend

Kane does not get the same recognition as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi at Ballon d’Or ceremonies, but he has established himself as a modern-day legend

Roy Hodgson, the former England manager, was mocked at Euro 2016 for asking Kane to take corners at a time when England seemed particularly toothless in attack. The criticism was understandable but it hid the truth that Kane was not only England’s best striker and number 10 but their best crosser of the ball, too. He has spent much of his career carrying teams. At Spurs, he is still doing it now.

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Some contend that the fact he has never won a major trophy invalidates his claim to be considered among the greatest players but others see romance and worth in the fact he has played for the same team for his entire career. Most of his rivals in the goalscoring charts play for title contenders. Kane has scored his goals playing for a good team but not a great one. Many would say each strike counts more in circumstances like that.

Somehow, it feels right to talk about Kane in the same breath as great strikers like Lofthouse and Mortensen. There is something old-fashioned about him. He does not make headlines for the wrong reasons. He is a dedicated professional who loves the game for itself and who has won his laurels the hard way, via loans at places like Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich and Leicester. He has not had anything handed to him. He has gone out and seized it.

After the game at Craven Cottage, he stood in front of a screen talking to the Sky Sports presenters about the strike that had drawn him level with Greaves. The presenter, Dave Jones, noted that Kane had not looked up before he shot. ‘I’ve been playing football long enough now to know where the goal is,’ Kane said, with a smile. And we have been watching him long enough to recognise greatness when we see it.

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