The phrase ‘boyhood dream’ is rather over-used in football, but even the most cynical amongst us could not fail to tingle, surely, at the thought of winning the Champions League playing for the club we supported as a child. The idea of watching from the terraces at 11 years old, with all the wide-eyed daydreams of youth yet to be knocked down by life and reality, is emotive enough on its own without juxtaposing that memory with a picture of your future self lifting the big-eared trophy aloft 15 years later.
Such a scenario makes your insides burst at the sheer thought of it; and yet that is what Harry Kane can achieve with Tottenham this weekend in Madrid — 14 years after Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard did exactly the same in Istanbul. The way that Gerrard achieved his dream — man of the match after inspiring one of the greatest comebacks of all time — means it would be nigh-on impossible to top that experience.
But nevertheless, Kane has history and personal nirvana in his sights should he, as expected, recover from an ankle injury in time to play at least some part in the final. A Tottenham victory, earning their first ever European Cup, would mean so much to so many people, but surely none more than Kane, who first represented Tottenham as an 11-year-old in 2004, five years before turning professional.
Yes, there have been pictures circulated on social media of a young Kane wearing an Arsenal shirt during a short spell in their schoolboy ranks, but there is no doubt about his allegiance; the Kane family are Tottenham through and through, and will be in Madrid in numbers. What they have witnessed over the last 15 years is a remarkable rise that has seen Kane grow year in, year out - much like the club itself has done after becoming top-four regulars and moving to a new state-of-the-art stadium.
“It’s been quite a journey,” Kane admits.
I feel like I’ve grown along with the club. It’s been my own little journey too and it’s been great to be part of it. So, now we need to take the next step and win a trophy.
“It means an awful lot to me because I’m a fan, first and foremost. I grew up supporting this team. So I know how much it means to the club and everyone involved here from the staff, to the players, the chairman, and the fans.
“Winning a trophy is what we’ve been working towards for so long. And even if it doesn’t happen this time we need to do it next year and the year after that. The only thing missing right now at this club is to give our fans some trophies because they have been so patient.”
Kane has been patient, too. He is still waiting for his first taste of silverware in a money-driven age when bigger clubs have been knocking on his door, hoping to tempt him away. But Gerrard, who twice turned down moves to Chelsea and was also chased by clubs abroad, knows the rewards that await a loyal, homegrown hero better than most.
His moment came some 15 years after he kicked a football around the streets of Liverpool pretending to be Kenny Dalglish; and although, much like Kane, there exist some grainy photographs of him in the shirt of their local rivals, there is absolutely no doubting his red credentials.
Gerrard spent 17 years at Anfield after making his debut as a substitute for Vegard Heggem against Blackburn in 1997 and, in an interview with the Irish Examiner in 2013, he explained the reason he could never leave.
“I am a fan, first and foremost,” he insisted. “If I wasn’t a player or the captain, I would be going to the game to watch the lads. That is why it is special to me and why I have stuck around. It means more because it’s my team in my city.”
Tottenham hope Kane will follow Gerrard’s lead, and if he is in any doubt about the potential rewards, then he should watch that 2005 final to see what it meant to Liverpool’s captain as he lifted the trophy above his head.
He could also watch the 2013 final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund when Philipp Lahm, a Bayern player since he was 11, played his part in another fairytale.
For some lucky people, boyhood dreams really do come true.