Football Features

Harry Kane hunts down the greats: How many goals till he passes Rooney and Shearer?

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 11:00, 6 February 2023

Harry Kane has now scored 200 Premier League goals, one of just three men to reach that milestone.

It’s an incredible return for the Englishman who was once dubbed a one-season wonder by opposition fans after his breakthrough campaign at Tottenham Hotspur, and now the question is can he break take the Premier League’s number one slot?

He’s already number one in Tottenham’s history, with his goal against Manchester City on Sunday moving him one clear of Jimmy Greaves on 267 goals in total for the north London club. Kane has had some poor patches of form but across each season as a whole he is generally consistent, and that is how he has managed to join Premier League legends.

Since breaking through with 21 goals in 2014/15, Kane has never scored fewer than 17 in a league season — including 2022/23 where he has already hit that mark — and even reached the hallowed 30-goal mark in 2017/18.

Along the way to 200 Premier League goals, Kane surpassed the likes of Teddy Sheringham, Les Ferdinand, Michael Owen, Thierry Henry, Sergio Aguero and Andy Cole to move into the top three.

But who are the two Premier League goalscoring greats in front of him? And can Kane catch them?

2. Wayne Rooney

  • Clubs: Everton, Manchester United
  • Games: 491
  • Goals: 208

When will Kane pass Rooney in Premier League goals? Assuming Kane continues his close to his current scoring return this season of 0.77 goals per 90 minutes in the Premier League, the Englishman will overtake Rooney before the end of this campaign.

Even if his form drops, Kane needs just eight goals to equal Rooney (as he has for England), and there will be more than a few chances for him to move up to No.2 before 2023/24 kicks off. If injury cuts the season short, Kane’s future very much seems to be in the Premier League, so there’s no doubt that 208 will be reached this calendar year, just after turning 30 years old. Rooney, by contrast, was well into his 32nd year when he scored his last league goal.

That said, Rooney is a beacon of consistency and longevity, having scored in double figures for all but four of his 16 Premier League seasons (his first two at Everton and then his final two with Manchester United). Yet Rooney only ever cracked the hallowed 20-goal-a-season mark twice, scoring 26 times in 2009/10 while bagging 27 in 2011/12.

What knocks Rooney’s legacy as a goalscoring great (and why no one thinks of him as actually being second on this list) is that those moments when he was at his most deadly, United were at their least dominant. 14 is his highest goal total in a title-winning season, while he’s won the league scoring as little as 11 times (in 2010/11).

1. Alan Shearer

  • Clubs: Blackburn, Newcastle
  • Games: 441
  • Goals: 260

When will Kane pass Shearer in Premier League goals? There’s no guarantee Harry Kane will surpass Alan Shearer, at all. Multiple things have to happen for that to be the case. Firstly, Kane has to stay in the league, which does seem likely. Secondly, Spurs have to retain at least a semblance of the quality they have right now (or, ideally, improve). Thirdly he has to have the good fortune to steer clear of major injuries and, finally, he needs to have the motivation to keep on playing deep into his 30s.

Right now, the Englishman is 60 goals away from the record. Kane’s average through his seven full campaigns as a starter is 22 goals per season. If he keeps scoring at around that rate then it should take him three more seasons to surpass Shearer, with the record coming at some point during 2025/26, depending on how lethal he had been in previous campaigns. That will take him to 32 years of age, which is about when most world-class players have their last world-class season.

It would be a fitting way for Kane to leave Spurs, by breaking the record and then going into semi-retirement in a weaker league. But the thing is, if he’s still in North London by 2026, one would expect he intends to retire at Spurs. If that’s the case he could go on and stretch the record out even further depending on how long he plays. His goal tally should drop as he ages. But as Rooney has demonstrated, simply showing up and scoring is enough to set records. As long as you keep on doing it.