On Sunday in the Carabao Cup final, Harry Kane could write himself into the history books but to do so he may have to follow in the painful footsteps of a often forgotten Tottenham hero.
Ramon Vega isn’t usually given the credit he’s due for his display in the 1999 Worthington Cup final, but he was the unsung star on that day at Wembley.
Vega put in a quality performance alongside captain Sol Campbell at centre-back under George Graham.
He was starring at both ends too, often used as a focal point at attacking set-pieces.
His contributions were vital with David Ginola, the Player of the Season back in 1998/99, snuffed out by Rob Ullathorne.
And while Leicester City star Emile Heskey, one of the most highly-rated young strikers in England at that time, was suffering from a back issue, Vega had to be on top form to halt him.
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Early on, when an offside trap went wrong, Vega was quickly back to stop his attack, while after 20 minutes, following a Campbell mistake, he slid into to stop Heskey, who was one-on-one with Ian Walker.
Allan Nielsen won the Alan Hardaker trophy, given to the Man of the Match in final, thanks to his diving header which won the game in injury time, but it was perhaps Vega who deserved it more, especially given Spurs were down to 10-men for 30 minutes following Justin Edinburgh’s red card.
He did the whole thing injured too – and it was not just a stubbed toe.
“I was playing with a broken ankle, taking painkillers — I was an absolute nutcase,” Vega told The Athletic. “But it was worth every second going through the pain.”
Kane, who suffered an ankle injury against Everton a week ago, is back in training, although not yet with the team, leaving doubt about whether he will be fully fit.
If he starts against City or comes off the bench in the final, which is live on talkSPORT, he may have to play through the pain barrier.
It’s never recommended and could ultimately cause him problems later in the season with a place in the Premier League’s top four still to play for.
But with Kane’s mentality you can’t rule him out even if some are warning him against risking his fitness.
And ahead of this weekend’s clash, which you can hear live on talkSPORT, former Man City winger Trevor Sinclair had a word of warning for Kane.
“Harry’s got to be really honest with himself, his teammates and his manager, because I think he’s going to make the decision,” he explained.
“You can forgive him for wanting to play even if he’s not 100 per cent fit, but I think he’ll never forgive himself if he does play and he’s not fit.
“I always say when a player’s got an ankle injury or a knee injury, I take them out to the training ground and say to them ‘if you went in for a 50/50 would your ankle be able to deal with it?’.
“I think if he’s honest with himself then he can give a real answer. You wouldn’t want him going out there playing and not doing himself justice, Tottenham losing that game and losing out on Harry’s ability for the rest of the season.”
Sinclair cited the example of Kane not being fully fit for the 2019 Champions League final against Liverpool as a decision maker.
“That experience should give him a good starting point of where he has to start thinking, before he makes the decision,” Sinclair added.
“It’s a huge call. Silverware is silverware – he wants to be involved – but look at the bigger picture.
“They need to still go for the top four and make it into this Champions League and he needs to be honest with himself and his teammates.”
But for Vega, lifting the trophy, despite it then ruling him out of an FA Cup semi-final which they lost to Newcastle, was worth it.
“The whole day was off the dial,” he recalls. “Painful, so painful. But sport is about winning and it was a brilliant occasion. The Spurs fans were just fantastic.”