Rafael van der Vaart reckons Harry Kane rates alongside Robert Lewandowski as the best striker in football.
But that’s not something he ever expected to say after witnessing Kane’s introduction to first-team training during his days at Tottenham.
According to the Dutchman, Kane couldn’t trap a bag of cement and had a stinker that day.
And so unimpressed was Van der Vaart with the kid so many at Spurs had been raving about that he turned to goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes and told him: “He can’t kick a ****ing ball.”
Now, though, he is so pleased his old team-mate has proved him wrong and shown the world exactly what he is capable of.
Van der Vaart said: “It’s a really funny story, actually, the more I think about it.
“When Harry first came to train with us at Spurs he was only 18 years old.
“He was on the same pitch as us and joined in at training with the first-team squad.
“And when the ball was passed to him, every time I could not believe how he tried to control it.
“I swear, I said to my then team-mate Gomes, ‘He can’t kick a ****ing ball’.
“But now he is up there with Lewandowski, who is regarded by everyone as the most deadly striker in the world.
“Kane is right up there.
“He is a an absolute guarantee for goals for both England and Tottenham Hotspur.’’
What did impress Van Der Vaart was the attitude and desire to improve Kane showed back then and it is that work-rate that has helped propel him to the level his current level.
Van Der Vaart added: “Kane has become the big man at Spurs.
“He is a massive goalscorer for Spurs and it is great to see him do so well.’’
Kane struck two goals in two games for England during the last international break.
And during that time the debate reignited — if it ever really died out — about whether or not he should stay at Spurs or move on in search of the major honours they feel will allude him otherwise.
Former Manchester United skipper Roy Keane was one of those voicing the opinion that he has to go.
And Van Der Vaart said: “Keane is right. In one way, you would almost tell Kane, ‘Go to a club where you can win things. Maybe Manchester United.
“But one thing Kane must not do is go abroad.
“He is a classic Premier League striker. He must stay in England.
“I have seen British players move to Real Madrid and often they struggle to adapt or be successful.”
That opinion won’t sit well with many of those fans who so admired Van Der Vaart in his days at White Hart Lane, although it does come with a caveat that Kane doesn’t need to check out of north London if he doesn’t want to.
He added: “At Tottenham, he is the main man, he will keep scoring all the goals and financially there is no need to move for him.
“At Tottenham he is earning an absolute bomb, so no reason to leave.’’