As Tottenham’s trophy drought drags through another barren season, Harry Kane has had to settle for statistical success in place of silverware.
While it may not rank quite as high as being crowned the leading goalscorer in the history of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, Kane scrawled his name onto another line in the record books in a bizarre 3-3 draw against Southampton on Saturday afternoon.
Rising above his former teammate Kyle Walker-Peters and Arsenal loanee Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Kane nodded Tottenham ahead against the Saints with his ninth headed goal of the Premier League season. Across the competition’s 30-year history, only the infamous Duncan Ferguson has ever recorded as many aerial goals in a single season.
Big Dunc – as he was affectionately and reverently known – plundered his tally while playing for Everton during the 1997/98 campaign, netting only two league goals with his feet that year. Ferguson’s haul included a hat-trick against Bolton Wanderers in December 1997 made up entirely of headers, the first trio ever scored solely with a player’s cranium in the competition’s history.
Peter Crouch holds the record for Premier League headers across an entire career, rising above the crowd to convert 53 aerial balls. However, the 6’7 England international’s best effort in a single campaign was seven during his one Premier League season with Portsmouth in 2008/09.
Prior to the current campaign, Kane’s personal best for headed goals stood at a modest six (2017/18). However, the workaholic striker’s aerial game got a significant injection when Tottenham hired the set-piece coach Gianni Vio last summer.
The former Unicredit banker supposedly has 4,830 dead ball routines filed away and worked with the Italian team that beat Kane’s England in the final of Euro 2020. Now plotting for the same side, Vio’s set-piece concoctions are responsible for four of Kane’s nine headers this season.
Against Southampton, Kane didn’t have to rely upon a dead ball but owed the mismatch he located at the back post to a dollop of misfortune for the Premier League’s bottom side. Southampton lost both of their starting centre-backs to injury within the opening 35 minutes and Kane pulled onto the back shoulder of the more unorthodox replacement.
Maitland-Niles’ versatility is a blessing and a curse but centre-back is one position he is not entirely suited to, especially when marking one of the most aerially prolific centre-forwards in Premier League history. Kane had struggled against Jan Bednarek’s stringent man-marking before the Pole limped off with a broken rib but towered over Maitland-Niles, who stands a full four inches shorter than Tottenham’s talisman.
In fact, as Opta also pointed out, only two other Premier League clubs have combined for more headed goals than Kane this season, with Fulham (12) and Liverpool (ten) narrowly edging out Tottenham’s airborne artist.
Kane’s scoring supremacy has been enough to stretch beyond the Premier League era, as demonstrated when he surpassed the tally of Tottenham goals that Jimmy Greaves racked up in the 1960s.
However, when it comes to headers in a single season, Kane still has some way to go before matching Dixie Dean. The Everton legend recorded a jaw-dropping tally of 40 (forty) headers while battering in 60 goals during the 1927/28 campaign according to Scott Murray’s history of the First Division, The Title.
Even after this season’s exploits, Kane’s career tally of 39 Premier League headed goals doesn’t match Dean’s efforts during his annus mirabilis. Greaves’ Tottenham record had been deemed unbeatable until Kane came along but Dean’s feats seem to be safe for now.