How Tom Brady inspired an unwanted gangly teenager into becoming the Premier League's top goal scorer

GettyTom Brady, and Harry Kane.
  • Five-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady inspired Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane.
  • Brady’s origin story of rejection is one that resonated with Kane, who developed late as a footballer but is now the top goal scorer in the Premier League.
  • New England Patriots quarterback Brady was written off as “tall and gangly.” Kane said: “He really reminded me of me.”

The origin story of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady inspired Harry Kane, once an unwanted and gangly teenager, to overcome rejection and storm to the top of the Premier League goalscoring charts.

In a column for The Players Tribune, titled “Zero to 100” to celebrate his 100th Premier League goal on Sunday, Kane said he watched a documentary about Brady in 2013 and it changed his life forever.

Brady, now considered one of the greatest American football players of all time, was not drafted until the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft. That crushing rejection at the start of an athlete’s career is something Kane related to after he was released by Arsenal when he was just eight years old.

Kane had a brief spell with Ridgeway Rovers, a non-league club famous for helping launch David Beckham’s career, and Watford. But, in 2004, he signed a deal with Tottenham Hotspur. It could have been his big break but he spent the next four seasons on loan with four different clubs, waiting for his chance at Spurs.

It was at this time when he “was really getting into the NFL.” He said:

“If I wasn’t training, then I was playing Madden or watching New England Patriots videos on YouTube. So one day, I happened to stumble on this documentary on Tom Brady. And it’s all about the six quarterbacks who were taken before him in the NFL draft.

“Turns out, Tom Brady was the 199th pick in his draft class. Imagine that. It just blew my mind – but in a good way. The film really struck a chord with me. Everyone was doubting Tom his whole life.

“Even when he got to college the coaches were trying to replace him with another quarterback. They showed this picture of him being weighed by the scouts before the NFL draft, and he’s got his shirt off … and it’s so funny, because he’s just looking like a regular guy, you know? And this one coach says, “We’re looking at this Brady kid, and he’s tall and gangly, and he looks like he’s never even seen a weight room.”

Kane, himself a tall, gangly, and overlooked athlete, added: “He reminded me of me. People were always making the same assumptions about me. ‘Well, you know, he doesn’t look like a proper striker.’ It was genuinely inspiring to me.”

Kane, like Brady, kept working and working until he got his chance. He refused another loan move and began training with the Tottenham first team in 2013.

He made sporadic appearances in the Premier League but it was not until the arrival of current Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino in 2014 when everything changed for Kane.

Harry KaneGetty Images

“Brady believed in himself so much – and he just kept working and working, almost obsessively, in order to get better. It really connected with me,” Kane said.

“This might sound strange, but it really was like this light flicked on inside my head… and all of a sudden, I said, “You know what? I’m going to do it. I’m going to work as hard as possible, and my chance is going to come, and I’m going to grab it.”

Since starting regularly for Spurs, Kane has returned 125 goals in 171 appearances in all competitions. He has been the Premier League’s top scorer for the past seasons and is leading the race for the golden boot again this season. The weight of the nation’s hopes will also rest on his shoulders as England aim to win the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

It is fair to say Kane grabbed his chance.

In a closing statement on The Players Tribune, Kane had a message for five-time Super Bowl champion Brady: “Thank you to Tom Brady, for giving hope to guys who look like they have never seen a weight room in their life.”

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