The London Palladium stalls emptied rapidly as ‘The Best FIFA Awards’ winners remained on stage to pose for photographs on Monday.
Elite players and their entourages rarely tend to hang around and watch others celebrate and so those who remained quickly thinned to friends and family of the victors interspersed with autograph hunters and those of us lucky enough to have had a ticket for the fancy seats.
Yet at the back, eyes lingering towards those basking in success and selfies, stood Harry Kane. The 24‑year-old has been collared for a picture or two but for just a few moments, Tottenham and England’s leading player almost became just another face in the crowd.
Cristiano Ronaldo, winner of the Men’s Player award, rushed out minutes later surrounded by bodyguards. Kane departed to minimal fanfare, accompanied by his father, brother, fiancee and agent via a different exit.
This is not to suggest Kane was anonymous, of course, but just briefly he may have reflected on the admiring glances being cast elsewhere as a metaphor for the final step ahead in becoming a world great.
Kane attended the impressive bash as one of 24 nominees for the prize Ronaldo took home. Of the 459 people who voted, comprising national captains, managers and media representatives from around the world, only one deemed Kane the best.
Step forward Vanuatu journalist Raymond Nase. You may just now be on Kane’s Christmas card list.
Each voter was asked to name their one-two-three and only six others selected Kane, all for minor placings: Spurs team-mate Hugo Lloris, Montserrat captain Anthony Griffith, British Virgin Islands captain Kavon Troy Ceasar, Bahamas coach Dion Godet, Wales boss Chris Coleman and Cambodian journalist Ung Chamroeun.
Kane’s 0.33 per cent share of the vote was the lowest of the finalists. Ronaldo garnered 43.2 per cent, Lionel Messi 19.3 per cent, with Neymar third on seven per cent.
There is a degree of tactical and political voting akin to the Eurovision Song Contest in play. For example, Ronaldo voted for three Real Madrid team-mates and not Messi.
Messi voted for three Barcelona team-mates and not Ronaldo. Some national coaches vote blindly for their own player, presumably in the hope of engendering greater loyalty — Belgium boss Roberto Martinez plumped for Eden Hazard.
These awards are not necessarily the unquestionable barometer by which all players are judged but there was a feeling that Kane, as phenomenal as his form has been, is yet to truly join the heavyweights.
Playing in the Premier League seemingly makes that more difficult. There has not been an English-based player in the FIFPro World XI since 2014 when Angel Di Maria was included chiefly for his exploits in winning the Champions League at Real Madrid — earning the Man of the Match award — and reaching the World Cup Final with Argentina, rather than his four months at Manchester United.
Wayne Rooney was the last Englishman when earning a spot alongside United team-mate Nemanja Vidic in the 2011 team. Kane has excelled in recent years and a continuation of that trajectory — accompanied by collective success at Spurs — will catapult him into the highest echelon.
Given his form, it should come as no surprise that Kane always has one eye on centre stage, no matter what company he keeps.