‘It was something you really regret’ – Chief opens up on why Harry Kane’s City loan didn’t work out
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England captain Harry Kane would have shown his potential at Norwich City but for his broken foot – according to the man that helped bring him to Carrow Road, Ewan Chester.
City’s head of recruitment for two spells between 2010 and 2015, Chester had Kane in his scouting sights from the age of 16.
He even paved the way for the Tottenham striker to join Championship Birmingham on loan, before Chris Hughton and his staff – including Chester – were appointed at Carrow Road in the summer of 2012.
By the end of August, Kane was a Norwich loan player in the Premier League – only to break a bone in his foot during a late September League Cup win over Doncaster; his first City start.
“The injury is a big part of it all because he came on against West Ham, big live TV game, and he missed his chance,” said Chester, pictured, of the man currently leading England at the World Cup in Russia – their next challenge being Thursday’s final Group G game against Belgium in Kaliningrad (7pm).
“It’s all ifs and buts – but if he scores then, he has a real chance of starting the next game.
“The injury coming so early, for me it was something you really regret. I’m convinced if he had remained fit throughout the time, by November or December time he’d have played a big part in it because we weren’t scoring goals.
“Grant Holt in my previous spell at Norwich with Paul Lambert, he was the talisman for us getting promoted. But coming back a couple of years later, you could see he’d probably peaked. Steve Morison was struggling a little bit. Chris Martin was going to leave for regular football.
“So there would have been big opportunities for Harry and I’m sure by then, we’d have been getting something out of him. He would have probably been starting games and contributing goals – but hindsight is a wonderful thing.”
Chester added: “I said to Chris when we were at Birmingham, I felt he was one for us to bring in on a season’s loan.
“It sounds bizarre to say now but although there was a fair level of interest in Harry from other sides when he was on loan at Millwall, it’s amazing to think some clubs questioned his pace. There was an impression he was a little one-paced.
“Come the end of Birmingham’s season me, Chris, Paul Trollope and Colin Calderwood all had a debrief. I had pushed Harry a lot and with Chris’ connections at Spurs, we thought we’d be in a good position.
“Tim Sherwood said they’d been inundated but wouldn’t be making a decision yet. Two weeks later we’ve all joined Norwich and we’ve got Holty, Moro and Chrissy waiting for us.
“After he was with us Harry went to Leicester and back to Tottenham, and not only did he get stronger, more powerful – but quicker.
“Our hope here was the strikers we inherited would do well enough for us that we could ease Harry in on a more gradual basis.
“The one thing I do remember is Chris coming into my room one day. They’d just done a crossing and finishing exercise and Chris said to me, ‘Chrissy Martin and Harry Kane – two real technical finishers’. That always stuck with me, and you could see the way he struck the two penalties the other night – it’s fair comment I think.
“It’s his temperament too. He was a really good, humble lad when he was with us. I remember him being absolutely knocked out when I told him I went up to see him for England’s Under-21s at Chesterfield while he was at Norwich, to see him play maybe 20 minutes. He didn’t even come on in the end.”
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