Tottenham’s Harry Kane finished the season with back-to-back hat-tricks to retain the Premier League Golden Boot with 29 goals in 2016/17.
The England international followed up his four goals against Leicester with three more at Hull City on the final day to secure the crown.
Romelu Lukaku, who converted a penalty in Everton’s season-ending defeat to Arsenal, finished up second in the standings with 25, one ahead of the Gunners’ Alexis Sanchez.
Even some of the Hull City supporters were applauding as he was substituted. Harry Kane had scored his second hat-trick in four days; eight goals in a week lifting the Tottenham hero well clear of Romelu Lukaku as the Premier League’s top scorer for a second successive season. It should end any argument. This is a truly world-class striker.
Kane is not only the fourth man to win the Premier League Golden Boot outright in back-to-back seasons, but he is also significantly younger than his three predecessors Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie. In fact, the 23-year-old forward is the youngest man to achieve that feat in consecutive English top-flight seasons this side of World War Two.
He has done so despite missing eight games through injury and now boasts an outrageous goals-per-minute record. Kane’s last 38 Premier League goals have come at a rate of better than one every 90 minutes. In the past three seasons, he has scored 75 goals in the competition. That’s five more than Sergio Aguero and 22 more than anyone else.
So much for the supposed one-season wonder then. But while Aguero’s status as a world-class goalscorer is regarded as beyond doubt, it has taken some time for Kane’s consistent scoring to convince everyone of his quality. He has not only had to fight the feeling that English talent is overrated but also the problem that first impressions count.
Growing up in the public eye can be difficult. Much like the child star who is trying to change perceptions and show they are now a serious stage actor, the young British footballer pays the price for spending his formative years in front of our eyes. It’s akin to showing the audience the magic trick. They are interested in the end-product not the process behind it.
Kane was not afforded the luxury of emerging fully-formed. There were the early loans to Leyton Orient and Millwall. There was the abortive spell at Norwich where the physical gifts of Grant Holt and Steve Morison were preferred. Fifteen appearances at Leicester yielded only two goals and a place on the bench for the team’s play-off ties. There were doubts.
And yet, fledgling struggles are nothing unusual. Diego Costa took time to impress. “He wasn’t quite as good then as he is today,” said Valladolid director Jesus Dominguez of a season in which the striker scored only two goals in his last 26 games for the club. His then coach Jose Luis Mendilibar questioned his composure. “I know I must improve,” said Costa.
Didier Drogba, a two-time Golden Boot winner like Kane, made an even slower start. Former Le Mans coach Marc Westerloope said: “It took Didier four years to be capable of training every day and playing every week.” He went goalless through a Ligue 2 season and was almost 24 when he moved to Guingamp for £90,000 and still took a while to convince them.
Both men arrived in the Premier League as physical specimens. Forwards who bullied all before them. The 23-year-old Kane is now that player. One can only imagine the frenzy had he come to England as an established star last summer and delivered this kind of output – a complete striker with strength, pace and ice-cold finishing from close range and distance.
Already, he has accomplished so much. Eric Cantona’s Premier League goal tally has been eclipsed. Another season like this one will see Drogba’s tally overhauled too. Membership of the 100-club seems certain in 2018. No record is beyond him, not even Alan Shearer’s scoring record. Kane’s commitment to getting better means that nothing can be ruled out.
“He’s one of our own,” sing the Spurs fans. Perhaps it’s time to broaden the sentiment. English football has witnessed Kane grow up. That should not be held against him but a source of even greater pride and respect now he is a £100m man; priceless to Tottenham and peerless among Premier League forwards. World class? There’s no argument now.