Jamie Vardy’s life has been one hell of a ride. He grew up in Hillsborough with his Dad, a crane driver and his mum, a legal secretary. From a young age, Vardy was fixated with football but suffered a blow to his dreams when he was rejected by Sheffield Wednesday as a 16-year old for not being good enough. Determined to not give up on his football career, he continued to play football for Stocksbridge Park Steels, a team in the seventh tier of English football.
However, Vardy also focused on his education as he took sports science in his college. To make ends meet, he decided to roll up his sleeves and start working in a Carbon Fiber factory.
Despite his struggles off the pitch, Vardy never looked back and kept on going, scoring an impressive 66 goals in 107 games for the Steels and started garnering attention from scouts which led to a move to Halifax Town for a meagre fee of 15,000 pounds.
One season and 29 goals later, Fleetwood Town decided Vardy was worth tenfold as they signed the flourishing frontman for 150,000 pounds. The Englishman’s eye for goal showed no signs of stopping as he tore defences apart in the Conference with 31 goals, earning the “Player of the Year” accolade. On May 2012, Vardy’s red hot for was duly recognized as he was signed by Leicester City from Fleetwood for 1 million euros. Now, the lanky striker had earned professional status, but his struggles were far from over. A poor first season with the Foxes left him wondering if he should continue with football or not.
But like he had always done in the past, he fought back and scored 16 goals in the 2013-14 season and helped Leicester gain promotion to the Premier League. A man who was once working in a factory was now all set to play in the top league of English football.
“Vardy! It’s eleven! It’s heaven, for Jamie Vardy! Hold the back page! Hold the front page! A Leicester player has smashed the record!.”
Martin Tyler’s reaction was just as animated as any fan of the Premier League as an Englishman from the Championship had managed to break the record of scoring 11 times in 11 consecutive matches of none other than Ruud van Nistelrooy. Ironically, the Foxes’ fox in the box broke the Dutchman’s feat against Manchester United in the 2015-16 campaign.
But today, when pundits and experts alike discuss the top strikers in Premier League, Vardy is never mentioned in the conversation. Each and every season he has continued to prove that he is a fine wine that just keeps on getting better with age. In addition to this, despite Vardy never replicating his exploits from the majestic 2015-16 season, it is important to acknowledge that he spearheaded the attack of a side that was afforded 3000/1 odds to lift the coveted crown at the start of the season.
Vardy had formed a formidable partnership with Riyad Mahrez as they both were lighting up the Premier League. His Algerian counterpart was more of a dribbler and a flair player while Vardy was your old school striker, using his raw pace to get in behind defences, striking the all with power, pressing defences and putting his body on the line for the team.
The English forward ended up with a fantastic tally of 24 goals and was tipped by only Harry Kane in the race for the Golden Boot. He was named in the PFA Team of the year and was later named the Football Writer’s Association Footballer of the Year as well.
If the clocks are set back to 21st September 2014, Leicester came back from 2 goals down to finish brilliant 5-3 winners against Manchester United in what will be remembered as a defining moment in Vardy’s Premier League career. Vardy was pivotal in the contest, getting on the scoresheet once while assisting 4 goals.
Claudio Ranieri has described The Foxes legend as “priceless” for his clinical goalscoring and industrious abilities. In the 2016 summer transfer window, Arsène Wenger made an attempt to sign Vardy but he rejected the move saying he was not assured that he would be played in his preferred position. Moreover, he pledged his loyalty to the club that put him on the map.
His boisterous form led him to getting called up by former England boss, Roy Hodgson and while he has never been the Three Lions’ main man, every England supporter will always remember his cheeky flick against Germany in the pre-tournament Euro 2016 friendly.
As things stand in the 2018-19 season, Vardy has played 28 games and scored an impressive 13 goals. In addition to goalscoring, he has continued to impress with his work rate, relentless running and unselfish approach to the game.
Former Man United legend and pundit, Gary Neville commented on how Vardy’s approach influences teammates: “He sets the tempo and the tone for the rest of the team and gives no other player behind him any excuse for not working hard.”
According to Leicester’s ex-vice chairman, Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, Vardy drank heavily every night during his early days at the club and would turn up at training still intoxicated. Srivaddhanaprabha discussed with Vardy over what he expected in his life, and he gave up his rockstar lifestyle to take training more seriously from then on.
During the Euro 2016, Vardy admitted that he did not have an athlete’s lifestyle. He said he did not exercise in the gym and consumed energy drink, Red Bull. However, there is no denying that Vardy had started to step up and will remain a figure to remember, unsurprisingly for his fairytale story that made him a household name in 2015-16.
Now 32, It is safe to say that we might see Vardy starting to decline but it has been a wonderful ride to witness the speedy striker at his very best.
Among several things that make Vardy a lovable figure amongst English fans, who can forget this iconic chant, “With a few shots of Bacardi, look who’s having a party? It’s Jamie Vardy!”
Edited by Srinivas Sadhanand.