Harry Kane: Arsenal rejection left me with point to prove – it is in my DNA

Harry Kane in a press conference before Bayern Munich's Champions League quarter-final second leg against Arsenal - Harry Kane: Arsenal rejection left me with point to prove – it is in my DNA

Harry Kane has said his childhood rejection by Arsenal left him with a point to prove that will “always be in my DNA”, as the England captain attempts to keep alive his debut campaign at Bayern Munich by defeating his old rivals in the Champions League.

Kane, who was released by Arsenal’s academy at the age of nine, must overcome Mikel Arteta’s side in Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final if Bayern are to have any chance of winning a trophy this year.

Kane admitted that the season will be regarded as a failure for Bayern as a club if they do not win a title, and said it is time for players like himself to “step up and be counted” at the Allianz Arena.

Kane scored yet another goal against Arsenal in last week’s first leg, which ended 2-2, and hopes that his team are able to better control the ball and the occasion as they play in front of their own fans.

The 30-year-old made clear that he is no longer motivated specifically by his rejection by Arsenal as a child, which he has previously described as giving him a “chip on his shoulder”. He did say, though, that those formative days at Arsenal built a mindset in him that will never change.

“We played them at least twice a year for the last 10 years [with Tottenham] and it was always a big occasion, big moment,” said Kane. “Maybe it was in the back of my mind, being released from a young age, and there is always a point to prove.

“I am the type of player who, throughout my career, has had points to prove along the way. I don’t think that ever leaves you. It will always be in my DNA, until I retire. There will always be a reason to prove someone wrong or to prove myself I can do something.

“I don’t think specifically back to that and think ‘I was released when I was nine years old, I really have to make a difference tomorrow.’ Now I am at Bayern Munich it is about being a top team in the Champions League. Of course I have history with them [Arsenal], but all I can do is try to help Bayern Munich.”

Kane has experience at this level, having reached the final of the Champions League with Spurs in 2019, and his loss to Liverpool on that occasion is a powerful motivating factor for him this week.

“Whenever you reach the final of a competition and don’t quite get over the line, there is always that burning fire inside you, to get back there and go that one step further,” he said.

Harry Kane celebrates scoring a penalty for Bayern Munich against Arsenal
Kane scored another penalty at the Emirates during Bayern Munich's 2-2 draw at Arsenal - Getty Images/Shaun Botterill

Kane has enjoyed an incredible individual campaign in Germany, scoring 39 goals so far this season, but Bayern’s inability to beat Bayer Leverkusen to the league title has prompted much introspection and recrimination in Germany. The feeling in Munich is therefore that only a Champions League triumph can salvage their campaign.

“We have a great opportunity tomorrow night, in front of our fans, to keep the season alive and keep some hope amongst the fans, hope that we can achieve something special even though it has not been the greatest of seasons,” said Kane.

“It is a time to raise our game, time for me and the players who have been in big-pressure situations to step up and be counted.

“Of course, from the club’s point of view it will be a failed season if we don’t win anything this year because we’re expected to win, but then all you can do is take that into next year and try to turn it around. We still have an opportunity to turn the season into a great season.”

Bayern will be without wingers Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman for the game, and departing head coach Thomas Tuchel used his pre-match press conference as a rallying cry for the club’s supporters.

“It is important that each fan comes with a readiness to push the team and support the team,” said Tuchel. “We need this extraordinary support. We need this extra percentage against Arsenal to win against them.

“We need to play to our limit and we need every single fan to fight with us. Then we will see what happens. We feel ready.”

Bayern are the more experienced team at this level and Tuchel hopes that added know-how could prove to be a crucial advantage, although he warned that Arsenal will be dangerous in the role of “hunters” in Munich.

“I think we have the slight advantage of experience in our team,” said Tuchel. “We have players who have won it, we have players who have played decisive matches in this competition.

“It can also sometimes be an advantage not to have the experience and have the role as contenders, the role as a hunter. That can be for Arsenal.”