Footballing intelligence is severely underestimated in the modern game. With an increasing focus on stats and sports science, football has lost an appreciation for the quick thinkers of the game. You can measure how fast a player runs, how much ground he covers, yet it's difficult to compile a spreadsheet about a player's thinking ability. One of the best midfielders ever, Andrea Pirlo, is not fast, but as intelligent as they come. Such thinking ability is very important.
Harry Kane is developing this capability quite beautifully. What he lacks in pace he more than makes up for in his movement and intelligence on the pitch. Martin Keown recently compared Kane to a former England and Spurs superstar, Teddy Sheringham. Keown wrote in the Daily Mail:
There was always a question mark over Kane’s pace, but now he seems much faster —that’s because he thinks quicker than those around him. He assesses the situation early, which allows him to make quick, correct decisions, just like Teddy Sheringham used to do.
When you factor in that Kane has 16 goals in 22 appearances this season, it becomes apparent that pace is not a necessary requirement to become a goalscorer.
Keown is not the first to have drawn comparison between Kane and Sheringham. In Michael Calvin's book The Nowhere Men: The Unknown Story of Football's True Talent Spotters, (Arrow Books, 2014, p.14), Calvin recalls watching Kane in an England under 19 game with the scout Mel Johnson. He says,
The one doubt, about his pace at the highest level, was neutralised by memories of Teddy Sheringham, a player whose game intelligence compensated for a slight lack of speed.
There is no question that if Kane manages to emulate Sheringham's achievements he'll have had a very successful career. One look at Kane's performance and hunger in Tottenham's shock 5-3 win over Chelsea clearly shows he's both the intelligence and desire to be a long term success.
The next step in Kane's progression is naturally to play for England. When you consider that he's featured at every level from the under 17s onwards and is now impressing in the Premier League, a call-up is likely on its way. We should not expect instant miracles from Kane, but a quick thinking player in the mould of Sheringham will certainly provide another option to what is a talented England front line. Young Englishmen dominating the top flight of English football is very good news indeed.
Kane's regular goals this season have well and truly dismissed questions over his pace. He may not get in behind the opposition regularly, but he crucially has that instinct of being in the right place at the right time. This young man is a potential future star for the national side, and if managed correctly, could provide regular goals for England in the years to come.