Record-breaking pot-dodger still top of Premier League players to win f*** all

Dave Tickner
Harry Kane is presented with his medal after Tottenham are defeated by Liverpool in the 2019 Champions League final.
Harry Kane playing in the 2019 Champions League final was a mistake

Wheeling out the ol’ Harry Kane List for another spin, because a) why not? and b) he’s helped himself to some more individual honours and c) despite Spurs being quite alarmingly sh*t for large parts of this season there remains a non-zero chance he might ruin it all and win something.

Straightforward rules here. It’s not just the big prizes – your Premier Leagues, your Champions Leagues, the World Cups of this… world – we’re talking here about any trophy. Won a League One title when you were 17? Disqualified. A Turkish Cup? Barred. Toulon glory with England younglings? You my friend are not welcome here.


10) Nick Pope
We figured we had to get a Newcastle player in there, and that meant either Nick Pope or Allan Saint-Maximin. Everyone else has either won something – however small – or just not been around long enough to really qualify. Pope’s longevity gets him the nod. He’s 30 years old and been on a marvellously circuitous route to Premier League and England acclaim having been released by Ipswich at 16 and then gone out on loan not once, not twice but eight times during his six years on Charlton’s books before a move to Burnley and an injury to Tom Heaton would change his life.

He’s now well into his fifth season as a reliably consistent Premier League goalkeeper who always comes out near the top of the charts for such old-fashioned goalkeeping metrics as ‘shots saved’ and now finds himself in on the ground floor with the chance to do something special in the Newcastle revolution.

For now, though, his trophy cabinet contains only individual honours. Given his well-travelled career, it’s quite something that he’s never picked up something, somewhere. He did land a place in the 2019/20 Premier League PFA Team of the Year, which is no mean feat given the competition between the sticks, as well as a couple of Burnley player of the year awards and two of the five new-fangled Premier League save of the month gongs handed out this season.

As for his England goalkeeping mates, both Jordan Pickford and Aaron Ramsdale are ruled out of contention here by Toulon success, although both await a first club pot. Don’t think we’re speaking out of turn by suggesting Ramsdale looks the likelier to put that to bed some time soon.


9) Trevor Sinclair
The recipient of 150 hours of unpaid work, a driving disqualification and a £500 fine for calling a police officer a “white c***” in 2018, Trevor Sinclair never actually won a club trophy – despite being able to claim more Premier League assists than Mikel Arteta, Roberto Firmino and David Ginola.

He has won a Goal of the Season gong for that overhead kick and finished as runner-up in the Hammer of the Year award to Paolo Di Canio, but club honours somehow evaded him at Blackpool, QPR, West Ham, Manchester City, Cardiff City and Lancaster City. But would he really swap a place in Blackpool’s Hall of Fame for a League Cup medal? Yes, of course he would.

As it stands, Sinclair is in a very elite group of England World Cup quarter-finalists who have never actually won a trophy; even sodding Danny Mills won a League Cup.


8) Kieron Dyer
The proud owner of 33 England caps and yet the genuinely talented Kieron Dyer never finished higher than third in the league nor played in an actual cup final, having joined Newcastle just after their back-to-back FA Cup final defeats to Arsenal and Manchester United. That under-achievement – and it is an under-achievement considering his natural ability – feels apt as Dyer’s story is one marked by persistent injury and foolishness.

Dyer was so desperate for trophies that he entered I’m a Celebrity in 2015. Although he lasted longer than Chris Eubank and Tony Hadley, he was no Vicky Pattison (who is?); he came fourth. Foiled again.

As Barney Ronay wrote on his retirement in 2013: ‘He never won a trophy or any individual award of note. He leaves effectively no mark at all, his most memorable act on a football pitch being punched by a team-mate in 2005. His career is, in outline, a modern sporting absurdity.’

Oh and Lee Bowyer won a League Cup as a player and League One promotion as a manager. Sorry fella.


7) Leighton Baines
Sliding doors and all that: Leighton Baines came close to joining Manchester United in 2013. Had he been sold, he might have had a medal collection to mirror Marouane Fellaini’s haul of FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League; instead, he has three times come close to claiming a medal and has emerged with jack all. He was in the Wigan side that finished second in the Championship and then reached a League Cup final in which they were comprehensively beaten by Manchester United. He then joined Everton and reached the FA Cup final in 2009 only to lose to Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea.

“During my time and in recent seasons we have just been beneath, we have come close a few times with cup finals, semi-finals, trips to Wembley but falling at the final hurdle,” said Baines in the summer of 2017 as he allowed himself to dream after a window of significant spending. It never happened and he retired potless.


6) Danny Rose
For good or bad, the careers of Kyle Walker and Danny Rose will forever be entwined and therefore inevitably compared. England international full-backs born in Yorkshire in 1990, both of whom realised their potential in the same precocious Tottenham side. But while one flew the coop, the other stayed and stayed before eventually joining Watford.

It is not for the want of trying. Rose did his best to engineer a move in the summer of 2017. “Time is running out and I do want to win trophies,” he said, presumably wary of becoming the next Trevor Sinclair or Kieron Dyer. “I don’t want to play football for 15 years and not have one trophy or one medal. Sorry, that’s not what I am about. I wouldn’t be happy with that. I want to win something.”

The words of Walker – “it’s like trying to describe the birth of your children, you can’t. And you can’t describe the feeling of winning trophies, either” – will hardly help. His former teammate has added a gazillion pieces of silverware at Manchester City. Rose’s Champions League runner-up medal looks lovely next to its 2015 League Cup counterpart.


5) Declan Rice
He’s not going to cross his name off this particular list this season, but it seems unlikely he’ll hang around on it as long as the obvious number one we’re slowly but surely heading towards here. Because, unlike Harry Kane (SPOILERS!), he’s not going to hang around forever at a London club that never wins anything.

Wherever Rice ends up in the summer, it seems pretty reasonable to assume it’s one of those clubs that win the trophies and that’s therefore what Rice will do too. He’s thus far circumvented the two standard routes to silverware for young England players these days: coming through at or swiftly joining one of those clubs that win all the trophies, or being part of an England age-group side that snags a pot. West Ham and Ireland have been enough to keep him out of the winners’ enclosure for now.

Arsenal target Declan Rice has a row with an opponent


4) Dele Alli
This is not the kind of list on which we should find a player previously touted as a £100m-plus target for Real Madrid and Barcelona. And yet here Dele Alli sits, driving and diving in search of a first trophy, having claimed promotion but no League One title with MK Dons. Like Rose, Alli has twice been voted in the Premier League’s best XI by his peers and yet Tottenham have come up short when it comes to actual silverware.

Made a tentative return from Mourinho-inflicted wilderness under Ryan Mason’s friendly caretakership at Spurs but early promise under Nuno Espirito Santo proved as fleeting as the manager’s. Nuno was gone by November, and by the end of January Dele’s Spurs career was over as well. Would that boost his silverware chances? Logically it would be near impossible to reduce them, except he went to Frank Lampard’s Everton.

“He’s a young player, but he’s not a proven player. At the moment, he hasn’t won anything,” were the chastening words of England manager Gareth Southgate in August 2017. Little has changed, apart perhaps from the ‘young player’ part. Even a loan move to Besiktas, a club you’d think has a decent chance of winning some stuff, hasn’t delivered the desired results. Dele’s own form has been terrible, they’re out of the cup and a distant third in the league. His place on this list looks as secure as any of the non-retired cohort.


3) Stan Collymore
As Daniel Storey wrote in 2017: ‘England’s very own nearly man. There are many supporters of Nottingham Forest and Liverpool who will talk long into the night about Collymore’s natural talent, but his three England caps and lack of any major career honours is testament to the problems that bubbled under the service.’ As does the fact that he scored fewer Premier League goals than Dean Holdsworth.

Collymore did at least reach one major final, but he lasted only 74 minutes of the absolutely rotten 1996 FA Cup showpiece before watching Eric Cantona score the winner for Manchester United from the bench. The irony is that Collymore had seemingly been close to joining United the summer before only for Sir Alex Ferguson to opt for Andy Cole (five Premier League medals, a Champions League and two FA Cups).


2) Matt Le Tissier
When Southampton pair Matt Le Tisser and Alan Shearer sat in tears having ended up on the losing side of the Full Members Cup clash with Nottingham Forest in front of almost 68,000 at Wembley, they must have talked about how their chance would come again. For Shearer it would, with the Premier League being claimed three years later. For Le Tissier, that would sadly be as close as he would ever come to glory. He would never finish higher than seventh and the Saints would reach an FA Cup final the year after he left the club.

Easy to forget now his main purpose in life is being a fully-fledged tinfoil-hat covid lunatic who believes the England manager would be too “woke” to seek his advice on taking penalties, but he really was an astonishingly brilliant player. Not that you’ll read about that in the MSM. And despite his current rage against the assorted conspiracies that control our lives, Le Tiss remains pretty happy with his playing career.

“I’ve no regrets whatsoever,” he told FourFourTwo in 2010. “From seven years old I had an ambition to be a professional footballer and I had an ambition to play for England, and I fulfilled both at Southampton. Yes, I knew I probably wouldn’t win any honours, but when you’re at a club that size, staying in the Premier League for 16 years gave me as much pleasure as winning a medal if I’d gone somewhere else. No-one expected us to stay up there for that long. I was so chuffed to be a part of that.”

Which brings us, inevitably and eventually, to…


1) Harry Kane
“I don’t see why he wouldn’t stay there for the rest of his career,” says Le Tissier when asked about Harry Kane. But the rest of the footballing world has been shifting from foot to foot and wondering when this great, great goalscorer might want to win some proper team trophies instead of individual trinkets and baubles.

The thing is, the scale of those individual trinkets and baubles is growing. And despite Kane’s obvious and inevitable desire to play his way off this list at some point (we assume that’s his primary motivation anyway) it was pretty clear after he broke Jimmy Greaves’ all-time Spurs goalscoring record – and went past 200 Premier League goals to boot – that it meant an awful lot. More than a Carabao? Not for us to say, but we still wouldn’t entirely rule out a new contract and Le Tissier actually on this occasion being proven correct with one of his unlikely and outlandish theories.

Whatever else he does or doesn’t achieve, Kane is a great Premier League player and right now the best by a wide, wide margin never to win a single thing while going about it.

His record of individual achievements is absurdly incongruous with the total absence of even the least auspicious of team ones. As well as his all-time Spurs scoring landmarks and his place in the Premier League all-time list (third, soon to be second, very possibly/probably first in a few years’ time) he’s got three Premier League Golden Boots, a World Cup Golden Boot, 53 England goals, five appearances in the Premier League Team of the Year, one appearance in a World Cup Dream Team, seven Premier League player of the month awards and a playmaker of the season award for that mad campaign a couple of years ago when he just kept setting up goals for Son Heung-min all the time.

But beyond all the individual awards, the sheer insanity of Kane’s big fat zero in the pots won column is that his near-misses make his career all but unbeatable in this regard. If we accept that for an English footballer the four biggest competitions are the Premier League, Champions League, World Cup and Euros, then Kane has finished a runner-up in three of them and fourth in the other. He’s also got not one but two League Cup runners-up medals and a UEFA Nations League bronze.

It’s not just that he’s a great player. It’s not just that he’s a great player who’s never won anything, it’s that he’s a great player who’s never won anything but has been a gnat’s cock hair away from winning the very biggest prizes. It’s got to massively boil his piss, hasn’t it? Surely?


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