The English press is all agog over Harry Edward Kane. Tottenham Hotspur's star striker, who only started to make his mark beginning in November, is about to make his debut for England's national team in either Friday's Euro qualification match against Lithuania, or next week's friendly match against Italy in Turin.
In a very brief period, Kane has, in the media's eyes, graduated from mere curiosity, to exciting young English hopeful, to full-blown media darling. Ahead of Friday's match against Lithuania, Kane mania has been in full effect: the media has been busily reporting on not only Kane's inclusion in the squad, but whether he deserves to start both matches. It has, ludicrously, gone from if Kane should even make the field to when Kane will play, and how soon until he assumes the crown of Bobby Charlton and Gary Lineker as England's Best Ever Striker™.
Open up NewsNow and you'll find tons of articles today about Kane. Here's Harry's international teammate (and someone who knows a wee bit about international pressure) Wayne Rooney, talking about Harry's "sizzling form." Here's Sir Geoff Hurst calling Kane "England's Thomas Müller." Here's Alan Sherer, talking to the BBC about how much he loves Harry Kane. Newspapers are analyzing photos and footage from England training sessions, trying to glean how he might fare if started in a "key match" against the 94th best team in FIFA's rankings. The Telegraph even ran an article breathless with anticipation after a paparazzi photographed a practice team sheet that showed Kane and Rooney's name circled together.
That's a lot to put on a player who hasn't even been capped yet. Does it make you, presumably a Tottenham fan, a little wary? After all, it's not like the English media AT ALL to blow things completely out of proportion and heap the entire sporting future of the Empire upon the shoulders of a 21-year old football debutante, right?
Here's the thing: Harry Kane is the flavor of the month in the English media, but that doesn't mean he doesn't deserve to be there. Kane will, barring injury or an unprecedented nose-dive in form, likely be a part of future England squads for many years to come (or until David Beckham's son comes of age). Better yet, everything we've seen from Kane leading up to now leads me to believe that, despite the unfair amount of pressure looped onto him by a country that invented the sport of football and considers it its birthright, Kane is uniquely positioned to handle this kind of pressure.
This past summer, I had the unique opportunity to actually ask Kane a couple of questions in a press conference after Spurs' friendly match against Chicago Fire. Kane had played well and scored, corroborating what we hoped at the time would be a decent debut season for him, hopefully leading him to cement the third striker position as his own. I recall that in that interview he was friendly, down to earth, and remarkably humble. Every press conference I've seen from him since has backed up my initial impressions. Harry Kane isn't a player to be wowed by sudden stardom. He's taking it in stride, even going so far as to say that he'd prefer to stay with England's U21 squad this summer as they play in the U21 Euro Championships instead of the senior team.
Harry Kane may be a future international superstar for England, or he may simply be another cromulent attacker on the world stage, but at this point it's silly to anticipate this based on whether he starts or sits against Lithuania. I suspect Roy Hodgson knows this, which is why I also suspect he might just start Friday's match with Kane on the bench. The media will howl, certainly, but Harry Kane is not a player that needs to be rushed into stardom. He will continue to do exactly what he did this season with Spurs: keep his head down, stay focused, and take his chances as they come.
There are likely lots more England matches ahead of Harry Kane in his career, as it's pretty clear he hasn't yet hit his footballing peak. Play the cards right and England won't have to worry if Kane is merely the latest flash in the pan.