Club Vs Country: How Will We Remember Spurs And England Legend Harry Kane?

Tottenham icon or Three Lions legend? The Sportsman tackles Kane's legacy
16:00, 20 Jun 2023

Harry Kane will always be a Tottenham Hotspur legend. The prolific frontman knows better than to risk a reputation-destroying move to rivals Arsenal at this stage of his career. It seems unlikely that Kane will do anything that Spurs fans can’t forgive him for now. But to those outside the North London bubble, how will Kane be remembered? While his own supporters see him as “Mr Spurs”, it seems like the forward could end up being defined by what he did on the international stage.

Kane is England’s record scorer and while he holds the same accolade for Tottenham, it could well be his time wearing the Three Lions on his chest that he is best known for. Supporters outside the Premier League have few domestic reference points to hang Kane’s legacy on. Despite his consistently superb displays, he is yet to lift a club trophy. Spurs fans will hang off every near-miss, such as 2015/16’s title challenge or 2019’s Champions League final defeat. But outside England, these almost-achievements have little cache.


Granted, Kane has not won silverware with England either. But he has taken them closer than any other captain since 1966. Kane captained England in the 2018 World Cup semi-final defeat to Croatia and the Euro 2020 final against Italy. Coming this close with your country will always trump doing the same with your club, due to the broader nature of international football. Fans worldwide might not be able to tell you Spurs last lifted a trophy in 2008 or that said silverware was the EFL Cup. But they’ll be able to rattle off the fact England’s last trophy was the 1966 World Cup and that they hadn’t been to a semi-final in any competition since 1996.

There is nothing wrong with being a club icon. But such figures rarely transcend the game without the trophies to back it up. Alan Shearer had a wonderful career as Newcastle United and England’s figurehead. But then the iconic number nine also had a Premier League title with Blackburn Rovers upon which to hang his hat. Matt Le Tissier is evidence of how cult status at a singular club, Southampton in his case, without international excellence can lead to a legacy that is unfairly viewed as colloquial.


This summer was tipped as the point where Kane steps out of Tottenham’s mismanaged decline. When he could join a club where his irrepressible goalscoring could be allied to the trophies it deserves. But with Manchester United swerving the move in fear of Daniel Levy’s pricing-out process and Real Madrid making eyes at Kylian Mbappe again, the 29-year-old could be staying put. His incredible legacy doesn’t hinge on Spurs winning something, but that legacy being seen as Tottenham-first rather than England-led could be defined by just that.

Picture Gary Lineker, another Spurs icon, in your mind’s eye and chances are you see him adorned in England colours. Ditto Paul Gascoigne, who was part of a Tottenham team that won an FA Cup but never won the English league title his talents deserved. Younger fans might even need a prompt to know 1966 goalkeeper Gordon Banks played the majority of his club games at Leicester City and Stoke City. Some players enjoy distinguished club careers, even legendary ones, but ultimately a dearth of domestic silverware makes their international achievements glisten that little bit more.

Kane’s legacy for club and country is secure. But don’t be surprised to see his career best remembered for what he achieved with the Three Lions. Spurs fans will never forget him and he could well be the Premier League’s all-time top scorer by the time he’s done. But without a major club trophy to hang his enormous contributions on, he will always be known as the man who captained England to the brink of greatness.

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