Harry Kane’s meteoric rise has continued this year and it was earned him a place on the 12-person shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award.
The Spurs ace’s inclusion marks a continuation of a renaissance for footballers as part of this prestigious ceremony. After four consecutive years between 2010 and 2013 when not a single footballer made the cut. Kane becomes the fourth consecutive footballer to make the list.
He joins Gareth Bale, Lucy Bronze and Jamie Vardy in receiving the honour but will hope to go significantly better than his predecessors. Bale’s first Champions League win earned him 8th place out of 10 in 2014 with just 2.21% of the vote. Unfortunately for Bronze, who was the star of England Women’s third-place finish at the 2015 World Cup, she finished 12th out of 12 the following year with 1.31% of the vote. Even Premier League winner Jamie Vardy was only voted 9th on the 16-strong list with the best vote share of the three, a measly 3.3%. Has the British public simply fallen out of love with the game? You have to go back to 2009 for the sports’ last win, when Ryan Giggs scooped a shock victory ahead of F1 World Champion and bookies favourite, Jenson Button.
Can Kane repeat that feat and become the fifth footballer to lift the coveted trophy? Following in the footsteps of Bobby Moore (1966), Paul Gascoigne (1990), Michael Owen (1998) as well as Giggs in 2009.
There was certainly a sense of shock from within the sporting community upon the announcement since Kane has no major honour to his name. In 2017, he was part of the Tottenham side which finished as Premier League runners-up to Chelsea, securing Champions League football again and, arguably more importantly, finished ahead of Arsenal for the first time in the Premier League era. Spurs bowed out of the Champions League at the group stage and their subsequent Europa League campaign was ended at the first hurdle against Belgian underdogs Gent. The EFL and FA cups yielded little success for them either as they were knocked out in the fourth round and semi-final respectively.
This brings an old debate back to the fore; can a player be considered world class if he is not part of a winning side? Kane certainly poses this question; he won his second consecutive Golden Boot in 2017 thanks to his 29 league goals, a step up of four goals on his previous winning tally, this was despite missing two months of the season with an ankle injury sustained in the 6-0 FA Cup win over Millwall. He ended the season with 35 goals in all competitions to completely silence the critics labelling him a one-season wonder. He has continued to prove the doubters wrong as he sits joint second in this season’s scoring charts on nine goals, just one goal behind Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. Talk of Alan Shearer’s record will most likely follow Kane throughout his career and one can’t deny that the England man has the ability and time on his side.
As for England, Kane’s five goals, including last-minute strikes against Slovenia and Scotland that rescued three points for his country, made sure that England strolled into Russia as unbeaten group winners with eight wins and two draws to their name. His career goal tally now sits as 12 in 23 for his country after a fantastic year that has seen him score at a more than a goal a game. His six caps have yielded seven goals.
Perhaps it will be a tall order for Kane to take the trophy. Bookies favourite Anthony Joshua, who knocked out boxing legend Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley in April to win the WBA and IBO world heavyweight titles, will most likely do battle with now four-time Formula 1 World Champion, Lewis Hamilton for the top spot. Kane faces competition from the likes of Tour De France winner Chris Froome, 10,000m world champion Mo Farah and tennis star Johanna Konta for third.
The one thing that always counts against footballers is the question of whether the public can put aside their club allegiances to vote for a rival player. It is hard to imagine Arsenal or Chelsea fans eager to cast their vote in favour of the Tottenham man. What we do know for sure is that Kane is a genuine star of English football and above all, it’s nice to see footballers earning some recognition after being snubbed by the award for so long.
All will be revealed tonight.