Harry Kane has impressed for England at the World Cup. FRANCISCO SECO

'I didn't think he'd go on to become the best centre-forward in the world'

Harry Redknapp gave the Tottenham star his senior debut, but admits to being surprise at the extent of his progress since then.

HARRY REDKNAPP ADMITS he didn’t foresee the dramatic rise of Tottenham and England forward Harry Kane.

The 24-year-old is currently leading the World Cup Golden Boot race with six goals and has also established himself as a top Premier League player in recent seasons.

It was Redknapp who handed Kane his senior debut at Spurs, seeing him score his first-ever goal for the club against Shamrock Rovers at Tallaght Stadium.

Yet despite this promising early start, the transition to becoming one of the most formidable strikers in Europe was far from seamless.

Between 2011 and 2013, Kane spent time on loan at Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich City and Leicester, failing to hit double figures for any of those clubs. Following Redknapp’s departure in 2012, the young striker struggled to get a look-in during the managerial reigns of both André Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood. It was only after Mauricio Pochettino took charge in 2014 that he began to truly establish himself as a first-team regular.

Moreover, the star was released by Arsenal as a youngster partly because he was seen as being ” chubby,” while even as he was coming through the system at Spurs, there were doubts behind the scenes over Kane’s perceived lack of pace and athleticism.

I didn’t think he’d go on to become the best centre-forward in the world, which I think he is now,” Redknapp said in Dublin today. “I think he’s the best leader of the line in the world. I don’t see anyone that is an out-and-out leader of the line that is better than him.

“I always thought he’d be a good player. I always thought he’d be a Premier League player. He had this attitude, he had a great attitude. A good trainer, a good player, but to go on and do what he’s done has just been [incredible].

“Even when I’d left, he didn’t get in the team. He came into the team really because [Roberto] Soldado suddenly wasn’t doing it and he got an in and they stuck him in.

“Then he was in and out but it’s just been amazing. His confidence has grown, he’s got great belief in himself and he’s a great boy. What he’s achieved has been amazing.

“He trains right, he works hard and he’s a model professional. You’re never going to read anything about him that’s going to be bad news. He just gets on with his life and lives with his family. Loves his golf.

“He’s not going to be out and about at night anywhere, is he? He’s a proper good guy.”

hr2 Harry Redknapp pictured speaking in Dublin today.

Kane is not the only England star Redknapp has been impressed by amid the Three Lions’ march to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals. Harry Maguire has also caught the 71-year-old’s eye, with Redknapp likening the Leicester star to former Ireland international Richard Dunne, who he managed at QPR.

“It’s easy to be wise afterwards, but I’ve been a big fan of his for a few years.

“He always reminded me of Richard Dunne, because you wouldn’t look at him and think he’s silky smooth, but he’s so effective.

“I mean, I had Richard Dunne and people used to say, coaches in my dressing room, that would say ‘get it up the side of him, you’ll do him for pace’.

“I’ve gone ‘no, you don’t do Richard Dunne for pace, he’s the quickest thing you’ve ever seen in your life’. Richard Dunne was a flying machine. He was just a great big bloke and people thought he couldn’t’ run, because he looked that way, but he had the pace of sprinter. He was incredible.

“I think Harry Maguire has got an ungainly look about him, but you look at him and he’s not smooth, but what a competitor, what a good player.

“Good in the air, good on the ball, I see Tony Adams in him as well. He’s a leader. I think Leicester are going to have an awful time trying to hang onto him. There’s going to be a lot of clubs trying to buy him.”

Harry Redknapp was in Dublin today at the launch of AIB’s new series, The Toughest Rivalry. The series, airing exclusively across AIB’s social channels, stars both Redknapp and former Italian footballer and Premier League manager Gianluca Vialli.

AIB’s Toughest Rivalry series will chronicle both Redknapp and Vialli’s journeys as the two powerhouses will take charge of two rival GAA clubs. Vialli with Erin’s Isle in Dublin, and Redknapp with Castlehaven in West Cork. The two teams faced off in an infamous 1998 AIB GAA All-Ireland Club Semi-Final, where Castlehaven were defeated by a last-minute questionable goal. The controversial ending left both teams with unfinished business.

The first episode of The Toughest Rivalry will air on Friday, July 13th and every Friday, exclusively on AIB’s social channels.

For exclusive content and behind the scenes action from The Toughest Rivalry follow @AIB_GAA on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and

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