LONDON, April 26 (Reuters) - It took Harry Kane four years to become an overnight sensation at Tottenham Hotspur in a season that began on the bench but is ending with a Young Player of the Year award as a full England international.
His peers in the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) had no doubt the 21-year-old striker who has scored 30 goals for Spurs and one for England 79 seconds into his debut, was the outstanding young performer of the campaign.
He was also voted runner-up for player of the year behind Chelsea forward Eden Hazard.
No-one could have imagined how his season was going to pan out, with Kane also captaining the club that nurtured his talents and becoming the first Tottenham player since Gary Lineker in 1991-92 to hit the 30-goal mark.
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino preferred Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor as his front two for Premier League matches at the start of the campaign, with Kane the third-choice striker among the substitutes.
But he gave the youngster a starting role in Europa League matches, and Kane grabbed his chance. While Soldado and Adebayor were misfiring in the league, Kane was scoring in Europe with the turning point coming at the end of October.
He got a hat-trick against Asteras Tripolis to take his tally to six in four European games, then came on to score a last-minute winner against Aston Villa in the league before netting what prioved to be the winner versus Asteras in Greece.
With the Tottenham fans clamouring for him to start in the league, Pochettino gave him his chance in November against Stoke City. He started the following week too -- and scored -- versus Hull City and has never looked back.
“Harry has had a massive impact on English football this season,” Argentine Pochettino said when Kane was short-listed for the PFA awards last week.
“I don’t think too many people expected Harry would show the performances that he has.”
After Kane scored his 30th goal in all competitions against Newcastle United last week, the Spurs manager added: ”I congratulate him.
”He deserves this moment. It is an historic thing. He is happy in the changing room. His team mates and supporters are happy, and so is the club.
“It is his first full season in the first team and he has the potential to be even better.”
Kane started training with Spurs when he was 11, turning professional at 17 in 2010.
Although he made his debut for the club a year later, a long and winding road still lay ahead of him.
Kane was loaned to Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich City and Leicester City before returning to White Hart Lane last season.
He brings more tomthe team than goals, though, with his ability to hold the ball up and bring others into play and the Spurs fans have recognised the rare home-grown talent as something special with a chant that he is “one of our own”.
With a strong physique, Kane not only plays as a striker, but makes runs from deep in his own half, and many have compared him to Teddy Sheringham who played a similar role for Tottenham, Manchester United and England.
If Kane enjoys half the success treble-winner Sheringham had, he will have a glittering career to look back on. (Reporting by Mike Collett; Editing by Ken Ferris)