I woke up at 8.30 this morning and thought: “My life is measured out in centre forwards.”
After breakfast I realised that it was actually 7.30 when I surfaced.
My bedside clock had suffered an inexplicable digital glitch.
As a Burnley fan at school, I loved Ray Pointer, even though my Dad was very rude about Pointer.
Dad had lived in Liverpool and said, “Dixie Dean could head the ball harder than most players could kick it.”
Regarding Pointer’s England prospects, Dad said, “If Winterbottom wants a runner, he should pick Derek Ibbotson.”
Ibbotson wasn’t a footballer, he was a UK’s best miler.
Then there was Alfredo Di Stefano’s magisterial performance in the surreal 1960 European Cup Final at Hampden, when Real Madrid beat Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3.
This schoolboy had never seen a game like that. And never did again.
When England played Di Stefano’s Spain at Wembley our centre forward was the beefy Bobby Smith of Spurs.
After England won 4-2 The Daily Express back page headline was: SMITH YOU’RE WORTH TWO DI STEFANOS!
Even as a naïve schoolboy, I realised this was patriotic nonsense.
After that I went to Manchester University so I could go to Old Trafford and see Denis Law, my hero. Later on, when I came to London, Peter Osgood was my second hero.
After that I slowly became a bit more grown up, worked as a journalist, became a football reporter in 1982.
Yesterday I went out to buy some clothes and on the way back Jan dropped me at the gym for a swim at 1pm and I did some cycling, some pilates work on the mat, and 30 minutes on the bike and treadmill with my iPod Shuffle : Rich Girl, Whipping Post, Cyprus Avenue, Human Nature by Miles Davis, a couple of numbers by Jason & The Scorchers.
Deciding to swim later in the week, I went in the café, drank a pot of English Breakfast, and read a paper with pre-Juventus quotes by Harry Kane.
I thought: This guy is so positive, so grounded. He’s a one-off soldier-striker. There is no centre forward like him. So dedicated to his job, his club.
Kane recalled his first start for England in Turin three years ago, when he was kicked by the ruthless Chiellini.
“Yeah, I do remember it!” he said. “I was a young player coming through, doing really well. He was a great defender, very experienced. It was my first touch. He wiped me out, gave me a dead leg for about five minutes. It was kind of a welcome to international football. It was amazing. I remember it well. It actually doesn’t seem that long ago. It was a very proud night for me and the family, my first start for England. It was a tough game, a good learning experience for me. I’m looking forward to going up against him again.”
He rates the Italian as his toughest opponent.
“I’ve been asked the question a few times and I’ve said Chiellini. I’ve faced him a couple of times. Also, John Terry was one of the best when he was in the Premier League. There’s a few. Chiellini’s very experienced. He uses his body well and his positioning well. When you try to make runs, he knows when to step across you. He knows when to give you a little nudge to put you off balance. He knows when to come tight and get up your backside and also when to drop off as well.
“It’s the experienced defenders that are the most difficult because they know where to be at the right times and you’ve got to find a way to get around that.”
I’ve said this for two years or more: Harry Kane’s exemplary appetite and physicality allows Tottenham to play the way they do.
His desire creates their style of football.