Harry Kane: My Story from Zero to 100 Rejected by Arsenal at the Age of Eight
Harry Kane, the emblem of the modern Tottenham Hotspur, has seen the trajectory of his career path rise and rise and there is no limit to where this journey will end. But he knows where it started and he traces it to that day in Chingford when his dad told the then eight-year-old that Arsenal didn’t want him.
‘Failure is a funny thing, when you’re a kid,’ Kane told The Players’ Tribune website. ‘I remember the day so clearly. There was this park right behind our house in Chingford, and I’d go there all the time with my dad and my brother to play football. No goals. No proper pitch.
‘Just give us some grass and two trees and we were happy. I was playing for Arsenal’s youth team at the time. I was behind enemy lines, so to speak, but it was a great opportunity. So one day when I was walking to the park with dad and he said, out of the blue, “I’ve got to tell you something”.
‘I said, “Yeah, what is it?” Then I remember he put his arm around my shoulder, and he said, “Well Harry, Arsenal have released you”. I don’t think I really knew what it meant. I was too young. But I remember how my father reacted and how it made me feel.’
There were no tears or tantrums, just a stiffening of his resolve. Nobody could have known then the mistake Arsenal were making but that decision shaped Kane. The thought of failing has never been an option since, just a determination to keep proving people wrong on the way.
‘Rejection is the best thing that ever happened to me,’ he said. ‘When I was lacing up my boots for my first start in the north London derby back in 2015, I had a flashback to when I was 11, playing against Arsenal’s youth team.
‘I scored two that day and the winner in the 86th minute was something I’d never dreamt of visualising before a match. It was a header — probably the best header I’ve scored — and that feeling when it hit the back of the net. I’ve never felt a rush like that in my whole career.’
Kane’s inspiration, reach the top after watching Tom Brady, the iconic quarterback of the New England Patriots on YouTube.
‘I happened to stumble on this documentary,’ says Kane, who is a huge American football aficionado.
‘It was all about the six quarterbacks who were taken before him in the NFL draft. Turns out, Tom Brady was the 199th pick in his draft class. Imagine that. It just blew my mind — but in a good way.
‘Even when he got to college the coaches were trying to replace him with another quarterback. They showed this picture of him being weighed by the scouts before the NFL draft.
‘He had his shirt off, he just looked like a regular guy. And this one coach says, “We’re looking at this Brady kid and he’s tall and gangly, and he looks like he’s never even seen a weight room”. He reminded me of me.
‘People were always making the same assumptions about me. “He doesn’t look like a proper striker”. It was genuinely inspiring.’
He might not have looked like a proper striker before but now? He is every inch the Rolls-Royce, serenely moving to more landmarks.