Harry Kane couldn’t quite “bring football home” this World Cup — the English national team fell 2-1 to Croatia in the semifinal on Wednesday — but the 24-year-old captain might still go home with a trophy. With six goals in the tournament, Kane is the clear favorite to win the Golden Boot for most goals, an award he has won twice in the Premier League as the starting forward on the Tottenham Hotspurs.
Earlier this year, he published an essay in the Players’ Tribune titled “Zero to 100,” a nod to the fact that he scored his 100th Premier League goal this past season, where he notes that, to get where he is, he did have to overcome adversity.
In fact, he writes, he found help from none other than New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady.
In the essay, Kane recounts being dropped by Arsenal’s youth academy when he was only eight years old and, later in his career, being sent on loan from Tottenham to teams in lower divisions. One of those years he went to Leicester City, when they were still in the Championship division, and he wasn’t seeing the field.
“If I can’t play for Leicester in the Championship … how am I supposed to play for Spurs in the Premier League?” he asked himself.
“That was the first time in my career, I’d say, that the doubt crept in. It’s a tough thing, doubt,” Kane writes. He told his father that he was thinking about quitting.
It was around that time that he stumbled upon a Tom Brady documentary.
“If I wasn’t training, then I was playing Madden or watching New England Patriots videos on YouTube,” he writes. “Turns out, Tom Brady was the 199th pick in his draft class. Imagine that. It just blew my mind.”
Brady barely squeaked into the NFL as scouts worried about his thin stature. Today he’s considered perhaps the greatest quarterback of all time. Kane finds comfort in that. “He reminded me of me,” Kane writes. “People were always making the same assumptions about me. ‘Well, you know, he doesn’t look like a proper striker.'”
“Tom Brady believed in himself an awful lot had a vision of what he wanted to do, and went and achieved it,” Kane says in an interview with NFL Films.
Inspired by Brady, he explains in his essay, he resolved to commit himself to breaking into the starting lineup for Tottenham, no matter what it took. “It was like I could see my childhood dream, and it was right there in front of me … but it was just out of reach,” he writes. “I was waiting for somebody to hand it to me. But life never hands it to you, does it? You’ve gotta grab it.”
For his success, he offers a special thanks to Brady: “Thank you to Tom Brady, for giving hope to guys who look like they’ve never seen a weight room in their life.”
Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!