Todd Kane could have been plying his trade in the Premier League this season if it wasn’t for Mark Warburton’s intervention.
The 26-year-old turned down a new contract at boyhood club Chelsea in the summer, opting to drop down to the Championship to join Queens Park Rangers on a free transfer.
It brought an end to an 18-year stint at Stamford Bridge, one in which the experienced full-back failed to make a single first team-appearance.
That isn’t a topic Kane likes to mull over, at least for the time being, his full focus is on his new chapter at QPR.
Walking away from Stamford Bridge was a tough call for Kane, but one he knew he had to make.
Eight loan spells had taken its toll on the defender. He now wanted to be somewhere he could call ‘home’ – making the short journey across west London to do just that.
Kane, who has already racked up 150 senior appearances in the Dutch top flight, Championship and League One, had four offers on the table immediately after leaving Chelsea.
It proved to be a waiting game for Kane though, with Middlesbrough and Hull – the latter where he spent the entirety of the 2018/19 season on loan – among the interested suitors.
talkSPORT.com also understands a move to Derby – who were managed by Frank Lampard at that time – was a serious possibility at one stage.
That particular deal hinged on whether or not Jayden Bogle left the club amid Premier League interest, but the youngster remained and nothing got finalised.
Evidently, he was not short on offers – with newly-promoted Sheffield United also having a long-standing interest in the defender.
The Blades had an offer accepted for Kane in January, but the deal dragged on and he ended up staying on the Tigers’ books for the duration of the season.
Kane was intent on taking his time over his next move – a ‘career-defining’ one in his words – but one thing was for sure it wouldn’t be another temporary solution.
That was something he made clear the first day he joined Hull back in July 2018.
Fast forward a year on and after another productive loan spell, it was time for Kane to make some big decisions.
It was now mid to late July and by his own admission the former England Under-19 international was getting increasingly ‘frustrated’ his long-term future had yet to be resolved.
That’s when the phone rang. Former Rangers and Brentford boss Warburton reached out to Kane to see if he’d be interested in coming to QPR. Kane liked what he heard and the pair duly met up soon after.
It was during this same period the 57-year-old pulled the plug on a season-long loan deal for highly-rated Chelsea full-back Dujon Sterling – something talkSPORT.com revealed at that time.
A matter of days later and Kane was a QPR player. So why did he turn his back on a potential opportunity to remain in the Premier League in favour of the Rs?
“It was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever had to make in football,” he said. “I got a call off Mark [Warburton] one day out of the blue.
“He made me feel wanted straight away and asked if we could arrange to meet as soon as possible. For a manager to do that goes a long way – you don’t forget those things.
“It’s normally always a director or an agent dictating everything in terms of initial meetings, so it was refreshing – especially being a free agent at the time – to have a manager contact me.
“By doing that he showed me just how much he wanted me at this football club.
“I had meetings with managers at other clubs, but I just felt that something else more suitable would be out there by biding my time.
“Yes, there was Premier League interest too, but it was about what club was the right fit for me at this stage of my career.
“When I met Mark my point was proven. I knew that QPR was going to be the club that I’d eventually join.”
So what was the decisive factor that made Warburton stand out?
“It was just his sheer honesty more than anything. It was a proper conversation between two men – no-one else was involved in the meeting.
” Mark spoke about what he wanted to, the club’s structure, the style of play he wanted to implement and so forth – so the move sold itself really.
“I wanted to go somewhere where I felt the most comfortable as a person as a player, so in mind of the manager’s methods and ideologies – the same as mine – I knew this was the right place for me.
“I walked out of that meeting and said to myself ‘I want to play for that manager’.
“I called my agent straight after and told him to get the deal done. And then 48 hours later I was a QPR player.”
It was very much second time lucky for the Rs where Kane was concerned, after a failed attempt to secure his signature just three years earlier.
Kane, who looks to have cemented his spot in Warburton’s starting XI as his first-choice right-back, says being back ‘home’ has been a huge bonus for him being the family man he is.
“Wherever my loan spells have been I’ve never been close to home. I’d had enough of being on the road and I missed seeing my family on a regular basis,” he admitted.
“It’s a different feel being down south than up north. Some people might not understand that, but it’s just a weird feeling.
“You feel welcome at the club, don’t get me wrong, but ultimately you’re living in a hotel for months and then you’re getting up and moving again. I didn’t want to be doing that any longer.
“Being in the same league and having a manager who has the same football philosophy that I’ve been brought up with at Chelsea meant it was a no-brainer, but being able to live in London was the icing on the cake.”
Kane gets visibly emotional as talk turns towards the role models in his life. There is no hesitation in his answer.
Maxine Kane has been with her son every step of the way on his colourful, yet challenging career so far. And Todd certainly hasn’t forgotten that.
“Being brutally honest she is the number one person in the world to me, and that’s no disrespect to anyone else, but she’s been through everything with me,” he explains.
“It was such an amazing feeling to call my mum and dad up and tell them ‘I’m coming home’.
“My mum was over the moon when I told her the good news [that I’d be signing for QPR].
“We have a real mother and son relationship. Every single day I will talk to her, whether that’s about football or just general life.
“She’s been with me from such a young age to now. She’s never missed a game, home or away, and that includes when I’ve been abroad.
“Obviously my dad and my siblings have been there for me as well, but from day one it’s been my mum.
LIVE on talkSPORT
Check out all the live commentaries coming up across the talkSPORT network this week
- Stoke vs Nottingham Forest (Friday, 7:45pm) – talkSPORT 2
- Sheffield United vs Liverpool (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT
- QPR vs West Bromwich Albion (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT 2
- Chelsea vs Brighton (Saturday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2
- Everton vs Manchester City (Saturday, 5:30pm) – talkSPORT
“I want to reward my family with my own success and it’s important. I’m a family man, and some people might not fully support their children’s dreams, but mine most certainly have.
“To be able to finish training now and pop over and see my mum and dad and go out with them, it means the world to me.
“Being happy off the pitch is the most important thing as a footballer, and in general life, as then you can perform to the best of your ability in whatever line of work you’re involved in.”
So does Kane have any regrets when it comes to how his career has panned out so far? And is he confident he can realise his Premier League dream now with QPR?
“I have none whatsoever [regrets]. Everything happens for a reason. We all go down different paths and it takes some longer than others to realise their dream in this game.
“I obviously hoped to be playing in the Premier League by now, but that hasn’t transpired so far.
“I’ve spent the majority of my time on loan and when my chance looked as though it was around the corner at Chelsea I did my ACL and for whatever reason I never got a look in again.
“You look at the bigger picture and it might say released or out of contract next to my name there, but at the end of the day there was a contract on the table and it didn’t get sorted out.
“I was at that football club since the age of eight and it will always hold a special place in my heart – but that chapter in my life has closed now.
“I’m a QPR player for the next four years and beyond and I want to get this club back to the Premier League.
“I’m really happy at this football club, but I just want the fans to remain patient – as they have been all season – and continue embracing what the manager is trying to do here.
“You can have someone else come through the door and play long ball football, so the only thing I’d say to QPR fans is be careful what you wish for.
“There is a good man in charge of this club at this moment in time who plays the game the right way and you can tell that he really cares.
“I truly believe we have the right man at the helm and a squad of sufficient quality to fight for promotion over the next couple of years.”
A top-flight return would be nothing more than Kane deserves, having endured a rollercoaster of emotions in his still relatively, youthful career to date.
Before that a repeat of his brace at the Hawthorns in April for his new side would prove very welcome, as in-form Rangers look to end West Brom’s unbeaten league run in west London this weekend.
QPR’s game against West Brom on Saturday is live on talkSPORT 2, with commentary commencing from 12:30pm