How Harry Kane went from a Norwich City loan flop to a World Cup superstar with England
PUBLISHED: 11:46 19 June 2018 | UPDATED: 12:19 19 June 2018
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Harry Kane is the most popular man in England at the moment but it’s tough for Norwich City fans to avoid a rueful laugh when watching the World Cup success of the former Canaries loanee.
The Tottenham striker is the man everyone is talking about after his brace earned the Three Lions a much needed 2-1 win in their tournament opener against Tunisia in Russia.
Kane became the first player to ever score an injury-time winner for England at a World Cup, sparking wild celebrations at homes and pubs around the country with his late header – proving his predatory instincts once again.
It led to some City fans changing their social media profile pictures to photos of the Spurs superstar in a Norwich shirt, with a healthy dollop of irony on top.
As Canaries fans know all too well, England’s captain endured an unsuccessful loan spell in Norfolk during 2012-13, failing to score in five appearances which were badly disrupted by a broken bone in his foot.
Of course he has since gone on to become the main man for club and country, scoring 108 goals in 150 Premier League games for Tottenham. Indeed his England brace on Monday night took him to a remarkable 48 goals in 54 games for the campaign.
However, Kane did show what he was capable of in a Norwich shirt back in December 2012 – when he lit up the club’s Colney training ground with a match-winning performance as he made his way back to fitness.
Then City boss Chris Hughton had used his connections at Spurs, where he spent most of his playing career, to bring the highly rated forward to Norfolk on a season-long loan in the final hours of the summer transfer window.
“I’m delighted to bring in someone of the quality of Harry,” Hughton said of the signing. “He is a very talented young player and has bags of potential.
“He enjoys scoring goals as he shown coming through the ranks at Spurs and during some good loan spells as well.”
“l’ll be looking to score as many goals as I can for Norwich,” added Kane. “That’s what I’ve done and that’s how I have built up my career until now, by scoring goals. Hopefully now I can take that into the Premier League.”
He joined Grant Holt, Steve Morison, Simeon Jackson and Chris Martin in the mix for a place up front and his debut arrived a fortnight later, replacing Holt in the 71st minute of a 0-0 top-flight draw with West Ham at Carrow Road.
Kane’s big chance arrived in the final minute, as Carrow Road rose to its feet ready to celebrate a new star when he was played through on goal by Robert Snodgrass in the final minute – only for the striker to fire tamely at goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Hughton left his loanee out of his squad for the 1-0 loss at Newcastle the following weekend but handed Kane his first start in the League Cup third round, at home to League One side Doncaster Rovers – who had current Canaries left-back James Husband in their team that night.
It was debutant Alex Tettey grabbing the headlines, lashing home the winning goal from outside the box in the 26th minute, but Kane had already fired narrowly wide and had an effort cleared off the line.
Then disaster struck. The loan hopeful went down in the Doncaster area just two minutes into the second half and was carried off on a stretcher. A broken metatarsal would rule Kane out for almost three months.
Fortunately for Hughton and City, a 10-game unbeaten run in the Premier League soon kicked off, leaving Kane as something of a forgotten man.
He gave his manager a fine reminder of what he could do at Colney a week before Christmas though, when he scored twice, won a penalty and struck the woodwork during a 3-1 defeat of West Ham Under-21s.
Playing alongside Remi Matthews, Harry Toffolo, the Murphy twins and Jamar Loza the Spurs prospect settled the game before being replaced in the 65th minute and setting his sights on a first-team return.
That chance came on December 29 when – with Holt out with hamstring trouble – he replaced the injured Morison just before half-time of a home clash with Manchester City, with the visitors winning 2-1 but down to 10 men after Samir Nasri’s red card.
His shot was blocked in the lead up to Russell Martin scoring in the 75th minute as the Canaries were beaten 4-3 but other chances were scarce.
A start followed on New Year’s Day, against West Ham again, but it was a quiet performance bar a penalty claim as the visitors were beaten 2-1 with the 19-year-old playing 70 minutes.
It wasn’t working out – but there was to be a final chance.
Kane was an unused substitute during a 3-0 win at Peterborough in the FA Cup, as well as a 0-0 home draw with Newcastle and a 5-0 thrashing at Liverpool before being handed a start against non-league Luton in the FA Cup fourth round at Carrow Road, an ideal opportunity for lift-off.
A couple of defensive clearances and two blocked shots was the best the striker could muster and he was hooked at half-time, replaced by the fit-again Holt and never to be seen again in a Norwich shirt – after City slumped to an embarrassing 1-0 loss.
Hughton brought in Luciano Becchio and Kei Kamara as he set about securing top-flight survival for City, with Kane’s stint brought to an early end. Two goals in 15 Championship games followed for Leicester – before his Spurs love story began.
So while every City supporter will be willing Kane to continue his form at the World Cup in the coming weeks, there will always be that feeling of what could have been.