The former England captain Alan Shearer always gives a persuasive answer whenever he is asked if he regrets joining his hometown club Newcastle United instead of Manchester United in the summer of 1996.
At the time, the two clubs were staunch rivals, but over the next decade, while Manchester United would stockpile five Premier League titles, two FA Cups and the Champions League, Newcastle won precisely nothing with Shearer.
The question is always asked with the implicit understanding that deep down Shearer must harbour some lingering doubts when he looks at what he could have won.
“No, I don’t and I’d do exactly the same again,” Shearer said in 2019. “What I [had] at Newcastle, my club. I stood on the terraces as a boy and went back as the world’s most expensive player.”
“I wore the number nine shirt, I am the record goal scorer and I have a statue outside St James’ Park.
“I know I would have won more trophies but the 10 years that I had, the goals I scored and what I have at Newcastle, I will never regret it.”
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It is hard to imagine Harry Kane, one of Shearer’s successors as England captain, giving the same answer in the future when he is asked if he has regrets that he wasn’t able to move to Manchester City this summer.
For the past three months Kane has positively ached for a move to the Etihad stadium and done everything he could to engineer it.
He already has everything Shearer found at Newcastle with his own local club Tottenham; the worship of the fans, a glut of goals, and there may well be a statue of him one day too, but he has decided all of this is not enough.
Kane turned 28 this summer and so far has won nothing in his career. The last eleven years have seen him secure just three runners-up medals, from the League Cup final in 2015 and 2021, and the Champions League final in 2019.
What he wants more than anything is trophies, and he was desperate to leave Tottenham this summer for the virtual guarantee of them at City.
Kane made this known in an interview with his former England coach Gary Neville in May this year. “There’s definitely a conversion to be had with the club. I want to be playing in the biggest games, the biggest moments,” he said.
“This season I’m watching the Champions League, watching the English teams in there doing amazing, and they’re the games I want to be involved in. So it’s a moment in my career where I have to reflect and see where I’m at and have a good, honest conversation.”
When that conversation eventually happened Kane told Tottenham he wanted to leave, but was informed by the club’s chairman Daniel Levy this would not be happening under any circumstances.
Even when City tested Levy’s resolve with a bid of £100 million, and Kane tested his patience when it was claimed he turned up late for pre-season training, he remained determined Kane would honour the last three years of his six-year contract.
And so on Wednesday this week Kane decided that Levy had won their battle and released a statement declaring he would remain at Tottenham after all.
Despite his warm words about the fans’ support, there was sadness and a hollowness to his words, for he is being forced to stay against his will.
It was noted he said he will be staying at Tottenham for “this summer” only, giving the impression he will again try to extract himself from Tottenham next year.
The problem for Tottenham is they cannot give Kane what he wants most of all: the opportunity to win trophies and play in the Champions League.
In the short-term Kane will now dedicate himself to scoring the 95 goals he needs to overhaul Shearer as the Premier League’s all-time leading scorer, but it is obvious it won’t mean as much without them being accompanied by winning medals and lifting trophies.
This was enough for Shearer a generation earlier as he had the unconditional love of the Newcastle fans, something Kane has damaged with his public desire to leave, but also because he had already won the Premier League with Blackburn in 1995.
As it stands, Kane is full of regrets, chiefly that he wasn’t able to leave Tottenham this summer, and it is likely to simmer inside him for the rest of his career, or until he finally manages it.