Harry Kane

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Harry Kane is a perfect example of the importance of resilience for a young athlete.

Rejection – the best thing that happened to Harry Kane
Arsenal fans must be sick of the sight of Tottenham striker Harry Kane.

Once again the England striker decided the north London derby result, heading home the match’s only goal.  But it is the fact that Arsenal released Kane as an 8 year old that must have many Arsenal supporters wondering what could have been if he had been playing for them.

There is no about the quality of the 24 year old.

He recently became the second quickest player to score 100 goals in the English Premiership and has scored 20 league goals in each of the last four seasons, being top goalscorer in the last two.  Coveted by Real Madrid, and likely to be a star of the FIFA World Cup, he has come a long way from the day that his Dad broke the news to him that he was surplus to requirements at the Arsenal academy.

Responding to failure
For Kane however, an illuminating interview in the Players Tribune suggests that being let go by Arsenal was the best thing to happen to him.

The reason?  Failure made him work harder.

He was fortunate that his parents didn’t criticise him when Arsenal made its decision.  Instead, they remained positive and focused his young mind on the next opportunity.

The words of his father are a great example of how any support person can help a young athlete recover from a setback.

“Don’t worry Harry, we’ll work harder and we’ll go on and find another club.”

Throughout his youth career Kane had to deal with a number of challenges and he always remembers his father coming out with the same line.

“Well, let’s get on with it then.”

Nothing complicated, just bringing it back to what can be done now to make a difference.

This attitude is exactly what we want at Top Flight Football Academy when we talk about building a resilient mindset in our athletes.  Achievement comes from the ability to be inspired by the challenge and respond to setbacks.

Tom Brady and overcoming stereotypes
Kane ultimately was picked up by Spurs and moved through its junior programme.

However, to prove himself he had to go out on loan to Championship clubs – first to Millwall and then Leicester.  But he wasn’t blessed with pace so was not considered a standout prospect.  With raw pace a pre-requisite for a striker by many coaches, other parts of his game weren’t recognised.

His view on what was possible changed when he watched a documentary of the great American football quarterback Tom Brady.

Today Brady is recognised as one of the all time legends of the sport.  Earlier this month, at the age of 40, he threw a Superbowl record 505 passing yards in his New England Patriots narrow defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles.

However, when he was drafted to the NFL Brady certainly wasn’t viewed a future champion – he was selected as the 199th draft pick in the league.

Part of the reason was, like Kane, he wasn’t a classic athlete.  Brady is slow compared to many other quarterbacks in the league, not the strongest, and (importantly for a quarterback) not the tallest.

But what Brady does possess is game intelligence and a fierce competitive drive to work hard.  Those qualities have been the foundation of a phenomenal career.

For Kane, then at Leicester and struggling to break into the starting eleven, watching the documentary was a defining moment.

He vowed to work as hard as possible and recognised that his chance would come and, when it did, he would grab it.

Champion athletes don’t always look like champion athletes.  With so much focus on purely physical measures it is easy to forget that football requires other attributes for the young athlete to prevail.

Kane did commit to lifting his technical and physical levels with specialist coaching support.  He broke into the Spurs match day squad and hasn’t looked back.

The result is that he has now firmly established himself as one of the premier strikers in the league.

The FIFA World Cup 2018
The next six months provide a wonderful opportunity for Harry Kane to make a statement.

Spurs play Italian champions Juventus this week in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 playoff.   Having already defeated Real Madrid in group play there is no reason to doubt that they can’t progress.

The club has every chance of finishing second in the English Premier League given current form and the FA Cup also beckons as a trophy winning opportunity.

But it is the World Cup that may take Kane to another level.

Almost 20 years to the day that England last played Tunisia at the World Cup they meet again in the opening match of the tournament for both nations.  Drawn in a relatively easy group with dark horse Belgium and unfancied Panama, England has every opportunity to progress deep into the knockout rounds.

There is no doubt Kane has the mentality to deliver at the highest level.

Both club and country will be desperately hoping 2018 will be the year he is rewarded with the trophies his attitude deserves.

But, regardless of how Spurs and England perform this year, it is Kane’s story of resilience and commitment that suggest he will ultimately be revered as arguably the great English player of his generation.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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