THE great shame is that Harry Kane is an exception.
That the pathological desire and dedication to reach the very top of the game is in short supply.
In an era when Premier League players command, on average, salaries of £2.5million a year, many of them are happy to plod through their professional career.
Of course, there are some very good players but the sacrifices to reach the top of their profession should be standard. Kane, unquestionably, is the gold standard.
He has worked it all out, overcoming the dressing-room cynics to maximise his potential with the help of his own personal chef.
Kane has not got flash. He just got smart.
He is a different specimen to, say, Chelsea’s main man Eden Hazard.
The Belgium forward is usually seen flying out of Chelsea’s training ground to head back to his family the moment Antonio Conte calls a halt to the session.
Hazard, a former PFA Player of the Year, is undeniably one of the game’s greatest talents. Could he do more? Probably.
Cristiano Ronaldo used to tell anybody who cared to listen in the Manchester United dressing room that he would go on to become the best in the world.
The sages at Old Trafford had heard it all before from various players over the years but Ronnie was true to his word.
Gary Neville, who would be infuriated with him as a teenager, remarked that Ronaldo left for the 2006 World Cup “a boy and came back a man”.
Ronaldo took to the weights that summer, returning to United a more powerful, muscular presence. Nobody could knock him off the ball.
He has ignored every temptation since — including alcohol — to give himself the best possible chance of reaching the very top.
Kane, who captained England for the first time at Wembley last night in their World Cup qualifier against Slovenia, shows similar characteristics. He is certainly setting a fine example.
The game has come a long way since former West Ham youth team player Martyn Mullen got some cheap laughs at Frank Lampard’s expense when he was doing some extra sprint drills.
“Oi, Lampard, what the f*** are you doing?” he called out when the youth team players were filing out of the Hammers training ground one afternoon.
Lampard’s dedication, jeopardising relationships with his peers by doing something out of the ordinary, took him to the very top.
Even at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, when Lampard was no longer first pick for England, his attitude never wavered.
He was about to turn 37, with his career slowing down after losing his place in the centre of midfield to Jordan Henderson for the opening game against Italy.
In training, when he was waiting his turn in the queue for shooting practice, Lampard would do sit-ups instead of making small talk with the other players.
A small thing, but Lampard was always ready, making sure he was in the best possible condition.
The mentality required to become a top-class athlete is something the clubs have tuned into.
Ben Lyttleton spent some time with Chelsea’s head of sports science and psychology Tim Harkness when he was researching his highly- regarded book, Edge.
Harkness can test and monitor resilience, monitoring players’ reactions in certain situations when they are taken close to breaking point.
Last season, when the pressure was on in the title race, Chelsea scored a number of late goals to secure victory in difficult moments.
To combine the team ethic with individual mentality to reach for the very top is a difficult challenge.
Sadly, there are not enough players willing to take it on.
NOBODY really got to know Justin Fashanu.
Even the latest film about his life — Forbidden Games — accepts that the former Norwich City and Nottingham Forest striker will remain an enigma.
His darker secrets, such as the reason Fashanu took off from Maryland in the US after he was accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old boy, are deeply disturbing.
The case will remain unsolved because he took his own life in May 1998, a month after he was interviewed by US police about the alleged incident.
Credit to the film-makers that this important element of his complicated life has been given due prominence.
Unfortunately nobody has ever been willing to co-operate fully to give a proper insight into Fash’s life away from football.
Without it, we will never get to know him.
RONALD KOEMAN is so grumpy first thing, nobody at Everton knows whether they will get a “good morning” out of him.
The Dutch coach has alienated himself from staff at the training ground.
Players’ gripes include his tactical acumen and appreciation of opponents, which Dutch chiefs are usually famed for.
JACK CORK was unlucky to be overlooked by England when Fabian Delph cried off.
Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate said he was looking to the future when he called up Tottenham’s Harry Winks, 21.
But at 28, Burnley’s midfield star Cork (right) is hardly over the hill — he just does not play for the Prem big boys.
IT seems strange that nobody at Manchester City has won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year since its inception in 1974.
The nation’s darling and Spurs striker Harry Kane will be an obvious contender.
But there could be another City first if they continue this electrifying run under boss Pep Guardiola.