Harry Kane can become a legend for Tottenham and England, says Gary Mabbutt
Ex-Tottenham captain Gary Mabbutt believes Harry Kane can become an all-time great for club and country.
Kane came in for some criticism earlier in the season after failing to find the net in 748 minutes, with some suggesting the 22-year-old might have been a one-season wonder after his 31-goal haul last term.
However, he has now scored eight goals in his last five games. And Mabbutt, who was Tottenham’s club captain for 11 years between 1987 and 1998 – lifting the Uefa Cup in 1984 and the FA Cup in 1991 – says he never had any doubt that Kane would come good.
He said: “I found it all bizarre at the start of the season when people starting questioning Harry and whether he was good enough to continue where he left off from last season.
“Spurs have had some great strikers over the years, but believe me Harry is one of the best finishers I’ve ever seen. You know full well that more times than not, when he’s given the opportunities in front of goal, he’ll be taking them.
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“I’m down at the training ground quite a bit and he’s really impressed me. He’s so clinical in front of goal and his movement is excellent in and around the box.
“Harry’s a great lad with a very solid family base behind him too so I had absolutely no concerns he would come back and end this barren streak. Even if he hadn’t scored up until now [I would feel the same]. He’s got bags of ability and a real eye for goal. If you speak to any of the goalkeepers at the club they’ll tell you he’s the toughest to face in training.
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“For me he’s got the potential to be an all-time great, not just for Spurs but for England too. He’s still young but he’s a player that wants to learn and develop and if he maintains the level of consistency he’s set over the last 18 months I think the sky’s the limit for him.”
Mabbutt is hugely optimistic about what the future holds for Spurs, and feels they have the capability to consistently finish in the Champions League places in the not too distant future.
He added: “I’m very excited about the progress Tottenham have been making, not just on the field but off it. We’re in a fantastic position and it’s been a long time since we’ve been in such a strong place.
“Full credit must go to Mauricio [Pochettino]. He’s had a lot of plaudits for the work he’s done with youngsters in the past, nurturing them and bringing them through to the first team, and he’s continued that at Tottenham. We’re blessed with an abundance of young talent at this football club.
“Each club will have periods where you have no players coming through and then all of a sudden you have a group come through all at once.
“If this group of players can develop at the rate they should be, they have the potential to be a squad that is competing in the Champions League every season and put in a sustained run for the title.”
The 54-year-old admits Tottenham must keep hold of their star players to turn that dream into a reality – but he is quietly optimistic they will stay if they can see the club becoming a major force domestically and in Europe.
“It’s essential that Tottenham can keep this group of players together that they have now,” said Mabbutt. “If we can show the likes of Harry and Hugo [Lloris] that we are ambitious and make them see what the dream is at this club, then you’ve got a good chance of keeping hold of them and really driving on.
“This squad has huge potential. We don’t have a Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart in this team, but we do have a lot of very talented youngsters and a good amount of experience in the ranks too.
“With all these youngsters coming through I’m beginning to see more passion to want to play for the club, and players who want to be the best and have that drive and commitment. I’m seeing a lot more of that than I have seen in previous years, so that’s another really positive step that’s been taken.”
After Sunday’s thumping 4-1 win over West Ham at White Hart Lane, Pochettino’s men - who have only lost one league game this season – face FK Qarabag in the Europa League tomorrow night (Thursday), but Sunday’s London derby against Chelsea is looming large on the horizon.
Despite the Blues’ struggles this season, Mabbutt believes they will turn it around sooner rather than later - although he concedes Spurs will not get a better opportunity to beat Jose Mourinho’s men.
“Chelsea have got a fantastic squad of players,” he said. “All the pundits were backing them to dominate the league this season and rightly so. Unfortunately for them it hasn’t gone that way, but players don’t lose their class overnight.
“Yes, a few things have gone on behind the scenes at Chelsea and that’s probably unsettled them quite a bit, but I still see them bouncing back and being a big threat this season to any team.
“That said, this is as good a time as ever for Tottenham to play them and an excellent opportunity to pick up another three points. We have to go out and dominate that game and show them exactly what we’re about. It would set a huge marker down if we can pick up back-to-back wins in London derbies and keep our unbeaten league run going in the process.
“Every single game we seem to be growing in stature. Off the field we have the re-generation of Tottenham taking place too. It’s going to be an awful day when the last game is played at this stadium, but to compete at the highest level we must have a stadium which can hold 60,000 plus.”
Gary Mabbutt was speaking at the London Sports Writing Festival at Lord’s. Visit http://www.londonsportswritingfestival.com/ for more information.