Why do we assume Harry Kane wants money and trophies?

Date published: Monday 23rd October 2017 12:41

Another weekend, another brace of goals for Harry Kane and another huge amount of pleasure for all of us neutrals.

Quite possibly the most likeable English footballer of his generation and a proper local hero, he seems to have no airs and graces, nothing ostentatious and vulgar, nothing egotistical and overbearing. He seems to just turn up, be brilliant and then go home again, pleased with his day’s work. A simple, solid, stable citizen who has a simple, solid, stable outlook on life, who is picking up £90 grand per week basic wage in return for playing for his local club. What could be better? Nothing.

So why are we told time and again by ex-players and journalists that he’ll definitely move when Real Madrid or Bayern or Barcelona, in the typical football cliche, ‘come knocking’?

Some seem obsessed about this because, in yet another slack-jawed media cliche, “you don’t turn down a Real Madrid or a Barcelona”. Aside from the extremely annoying unnecessary addition of an “a” in front the name of the club, these pundits also seem to think that because Tottenham don’t pay the highest wages, this is another reason Kane will leave.

It is perhaps typical of greedy, overbearing people to assume that everyone is as greedy and overbearing as they are. They judge people by their own standards. It seems highly improbable that Kane is like that at all. He seems a plain, endearingly somewhat gauche lad who has just married his girlfriend of five years, a girl he knew in school. They have two labradors and a new baby. This is not a flash man who has sought to live the life of a louche lothario.

Some people just have different values.

I have a pal who works in the third sector and is paid a typical average wage in UK. She could double her money in the private sector doing a similar job, but she chooses not to. Why? Because she loves where she works, she loves who she works with and she loves the satisfaction her job gives her. In short, she’s happy and really understands the true value of that happiness. She says: “Being able to buy more things or live in a more expensive house won’t make me happier or more fulfilled than I am now. I have enough to live on. What more do I need than that?”


And this is someone on just 25 grand a year. Harry is on £90,000 per week basic. Across his remaining career, he’ll likely earn well north of £50million even if he never leaves Spurs. It doesn’t seem to occur to anyone insisting Spurs won’t keep him unless they pay Manchester City-style wages that maybe he’s more than happy with these level of earnings already.

He has no need, nor want, for even more money. In fact, I’m sure he’d play for Spurs for £500 a week if that was the going rate. Not everyone measures their worth with a money ruler. Not everyone wants to keep buying ever more expensive things. Some people know that money can buy you a massive watch, but it can’t buy you love, contentment, or the sort of respect that matters.

It seems odd that this financial argument is so often asserted as though it is always true of everyone. Yes, we know it is certainly true for some, but many people are simply not like that. Frankly, Kane is already earning more money than he’ll ever be able to spend. Isn’t that by definition, quite profoundly enough?

The next argument as to why Kane will move sooner or later is that he will “want to win things” so if Spurs don’t, he’ll be off. I’m sure he does want to win things, but he wants to win things with Spurs, because Spurs is his club. Maybe just playing for them is actually more important than anything else to him. It is far from impossible that is the truth.

We have seen examples of this in the past. Matt Le Tissier is the most obvious one. There is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to maximise your happiness and contentment over earnings and silverware. Not wanting to move doesn’t show lack of ambition, it shows good self-knowledge. If Harry’s ambition is to be a great centre-forward for Tottenham Hotspur, he is already fulfilling it.

One of Thatcherism’s greatest victories was to firmly establish the idea that humans are units of earning power who will always seek to maximise their income over and above anything else. Capital is what counts and everything and everyone must bend the knee in obeisance to it. That’s where the kind of thinking which says an already rich footballer always moves on for even more money comes from. And yet, despite the brief popularity of this destructive, some might say evil and most certainly venal outlook, many humans rather stubbornly continue to be more than mere
money hoovers. Indeed, for the first time in a generation, the idea that the pursuit of materialism is a vapid, soulless way of life has gained really widespread traction during an epidemic of economic and psychological depression.

Pundits and ex-players know that your success as a footballer is as much psychological as skillful. If your head is in the right place, it allows you the confidence to perform. So if everything is going well, why would you risk corrupting the combination that has made you one of the best strikers in the world by moving to another cub where everything would be different? You wouldn’t. And that’s why Kane won’t voluntarily move from Spurs and no amount of money or lure of silverware will change that.

Harry Kane is really nice and ordinary, and in being really nice and ordinary, he is being extraordinary. And that’s another big reason to love him.

John Nicholson

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