Harry Kane On Success, Goal Scoring and Taking Flight Ahead of a New Season

Photography: Nike / Interview & Words: Tom Everest

“Yeah, I’m counting them out now,” replies a relaxed Harry Kane after we asked the England and Spurs striker how many hat-trick balls he has in his house. “I’m in the study and there’s eight Nike ones I can count in here. I haven’t had one for a while, actually, so hopefully the new ball brings me a bit of luck.” 

The date is Friday 26th June. Only 9 days since the Premier League restarted, around six months since Harry left the pitch injured against Southampton, and just two months before he finished the season by breaking the 200 career goals milestone. His two strikes in Tottenham’s 3-1 victory over Newcastle on June 15th not only saw him reach the landmark in 350 matches but also pass the tally of 20 goals for the sixth consecutive season. For reference, he reached 200 career goals quicker than the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Thierry Henry.

Anyway, taking it back to June, we spoke to Harry while he was working his way back into the Premier League to talk us through the new Nike Flight Ball. A ball that looks set to revolutionise the game when the new season kicks off on September 12th thanks to an eight-year design exploration into the investigation of inconsistent aerodynamics and ball flight. 

Incorporating Nike’s new AerowSculpt technology, the ball delivers a measurable benefit of 30 percent truer flight than its predecessor. Which is good for Harry and good for strikers. Essentially, it’s a ball made to fit the exacting recipe of the Premier League. Its angular chevrons and a ‘Laser Crimson’ glow give a look as clean and striking as the shots on target that the ball will deliver.

It turns out Harry didn’t need to wait for the ‘luck’ of a new ball to rediscover his scoring touch, though. He ended the season with 7 goals in 7 games, including two braces, to help Spurs finish the season positively. His final flurry also confirmed why he was the right man to discuss the intricacies of the new Nike Flight Ball with. And, just why, he’s one of the best out-and-out strikers in the game. His signature low dipping strike, the arrows into the near post, the curlers into the far corner. His all-round hold-up play, his first touch, his strength, his selflessness. They’re the character traits that not only make him a special player but the exact traits that Nike have looked to maximise in the creation of the new ball. 

All of that made sure our chat with Harry offered an insightful athlete-focussed vision on the technological advancements of modern football as well as an intimate look into the preparation and striking techniques of one of the game’s most-feared forwards. 

When it comes to receiving a new ball what is the first thing you do? 

Whenever a new ball comes it’s always about the strike. For me, it’s about how consistent it is and obviously as a striker it’s very important to be hitting the corners. The first thing is get some finishing done to see how it moves, to see how it comes off the surface. Obviously the quicker the better for me as it’s harder for the goalkeepers. But yeah, it’s really about seeing how that ball comes off the boot and if it keeps the same shape on a consistent basis.

What’s it like to adjust and train with a new ball at the start of a new season?

The adjustment is pretty quick. Once you train with it once or twice you get used to it. Obviously, the Flight Ball is the biggest difference we’ve seen for a while. With previous balls you just got on with but this one is a bit different, even with the visual look of it as well. It’s completely new. I’ve trained with it a few times now, the first time being with England last year, and I know once we start playing with it next season it won’t be a problem. 

When it comes to the ball, how much do you look to the design or is it all about the performance? Because there’s a number of different Nike ball designs that hold so many precious memories for fans and players.

As I’ve become a professional it’s become more about the performance side of the ball. But over the years, when you watch games back, you do remember certain goals people have scored and you remember the exact ball. It does make a difference. With the new Premier League Flight Ball, it’s the first time for the fans especially, that they have seen anything like it. I’m excited for all the fans to see it in-game. From my point of view, I’ve got a few hat-trick balls at home already so hopefully I’ll be able to put one of these up in the study too.

In what stage or passage in the professional game is the ‘flight’ quality of a ball most noticeable? 

With this ball, I remember talking about it when I first tried it, it was so pure. Whenever I played a long pass, the ball was pure and then it would dip quite late. As a striker, if I’m getting played through over the top it’s being able to judge when the ball is going to dip and when the ball is going to come down. With the strike, especially when you’re hitting it with a lot of power, you don’t see the deviation in the ball that you previously did. 

As a striker, do you think this ball will give you an advantage?

Yeah, I think so. Once I start playing with it, getting into the flow with it, it becomes part of my process. I think it can definitely be used to the strikers advantage.

Does the goalkeeper-striker banter still go on in training?

I think keepers always like to make excuses, anyway! (Laughs) It’s always a bit of fun we have between each other. At the end of the day, their job is to keep the ball out while ours is to score, so we have completely different mindsets.

You’ve always said the bottom corner is your favourite and your striking technique is recognisable for the way you strike the ball quite, low, hard and flat. Why did you develop that strike and how do you ensure you’re always consistent with it?

As a kid, obviously, you get told to keep it low and hard because it’s difficult for the goalkeepers. I’ve just taken that in my stride. I’ve always been someone who has been able to finish the ball and score goals but as I started getting older and started realising that it’s something I wanted to do full-time, around the age of 13-14, I was doing a lot of work on my finishing. 

Even now, I always prefer hitting it lower. Of course, it looks nicer when it goes into the top corner and everyone talks about it and raves about it but, I think, from a consistency point of view it’s a lot easier to keep going low and hard and a lot of the time across the goal. It’s really hard for goalkeepers to get down. It’s something that I think I was half born with and half that I’ve worked on as I’ve got older.

You always say you like that little shift touch to pull the strike back across the goal and through the defenders’ legs. When you’re on the ball in a game, is that the first instinct, the first thing you see or look to? What exactly do you see? Is there always an image in your mind?

It all depends on where the defender is and the movement the defender is making because a lot of the time when I’m trying to get my shots off it’s about moving the defender in a way that I want them to move. If I take a shift it’s because I want them to put a leg out one way so I can go back through the other way. Whereas, if he’s not as tight as I want him to be, I might just take a quick shot to the front post. It’s not something I definitely look for all the time but it’s something that I think defenders find very hard because they want to get tight to you. I know if I can take a quick touch one way and shoot the other way it’s most likely they’re going to try and block it and stick a leg out.  

In the same time Nike have been developing the Flight ball you’ve scored over 200 career goals. What goals and ambitions would you like to achieve with the new flight ball?

For me, it’s a chance to improve and get better. It’s been nice to hit over 200 but now it’s time to score more goals in less games. Hopefully I can get a few of these Flight balls hanging in my house. I’m confident I’ll be able to take what I’ve done with the last 10 years and improve even more.

Pick up the new Nike Premier League Flight Ball today from Nike.com/football.

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