Jamie Vardy’s story this season has been a fairy tale. After helping keep Leicester City in the Barclays Premier League last season, the man from Sheffield has gone from strength to strength and even managed to earn a few England caps on the way.
So what has been the reason for this success story? Vardy only managed to score five league goals last year. Has the new England hit man always been such a ‘gem’? Or does he have a dark history to taint his future?
Vardy start his professional career with Stockbridge after being released from Sheffield Wednesday’s academy and went on to make 107 appearances for the club scoring 66 goals over a four-year period. After some impressive performances Vardy almost made the step up to the Football League, but failed a trial with Crewe Alexander.
The striker didn’t always have it easy at the club and although good form followed him, he was arrested for assault as a 20-year-old. The England striker, however, still maintains that he was sticking up for a deaf friend. The resulting action meant that Vardy had to wear an electronic tag. On one particular occasion he could only play 60 minutes of a game, having to be home before a curfew of 6.00 pm!
‘’It was tough not being able to do what any normal 20-year old would be doing. Going out and stuff. All my mates were out enjoying themselves and I was locked in the house.’’ Said Vardy at an England press conference back in June.
This never stalled Vardy’s career too much and in June 2010 Stockbridge accepted an offer of £15,000 from FC Halifax Town. Vardy went on to finish as the club’s top goal scorer with 26 goals, helping them win the Northern Premier League title in the process.
Having been at the club for just over a year and making a great start to the 2011 – 2012 season Vardy moved on once again. Signing for Conference Premier side Fleetwood Town and making his debut the very same day.
Goals came on the pitch, as much as controversy for Vardy, after he was shown a straight red for a reckless and dangerous tackle on Kidderminster’s Lee Vaughan. The challenge left some of the Kidderminster players so angry that they had player Steve Guinan sent off for throwing a punch.
Despite this careless behavior, Blackpool manager Ian Holloway tried to sign Vardy for £750,000. Fleetwood rejected the offer, wanting one million for their prized asset. Leicester finally ended up signing the troublesome forward at the end of the season for a non-league record £ 1 million.The big money move resulted in contrasting fortunes as Vardy struggled in his first season at the King Power stadium. He only managed four league goals all season, and came under heavy scrutiny at the club, almost quitting football altogether. The following season however, Vardy found a fine rush of form and hit 16 goals, putting a disappointing first season behind him and helping earn Leicester promotion to the Barclays Premier League.
Despite a scintillating start Vardy struggled in his first season in England’s top flight, and only managed five league goals all season. Leicester were struggling too as they were bottom of the league for much of the season, and escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth.
After James Pearson was sacked from Leicester for releasing a racial-sex tape, some may have thought Vardy would get the same vindication after the striker was recorded abusing a man at a casino in August. The England frontman did, however, come straight out and apologise and no more action was taken.
Vardy was able to put all this behind him and the nation has appeared to have fallen in love with him, and his story this season. The Leicester number nine was able to break Ruud Van Nistelrooy record of scoring in consecutive Barclays Premier League games, against none other than Manchester United.
As Leicester go into dreamland at the top of the table and their number nine having already reached 16 league goals this season. Could it possibly be imaginable that non-league footballer Jamie Vardy can claim the golden boot? Or even more unlikely, can Leicester win the title?