On Saturday, Jamie Vardy became only the third Premier League player to score in 8 consecutive league games. The striker’s finishing, work rate, pace and all round game have attracted plenty of admirers, and Vardy has been one of the best players in the league this season.
His scintillating form has earned him his four England caps, and on current form, the Leicester striker will be in contention to start at next summer’s Euros.
But the 28 year olds rise to the top has been far from plain-sailing, and his exploits off the pitch have been as interesting as those on it.
Released at 16 by Sheffield Wednesday, Vardy moved to non-league side Stocksbridge Park Steels. He made his debut in 2007, and earned just £30 a week. Vardy supplemented this modest income with a day job as a carbon-fibre technician.
Whilst at Stocksbridge, Vardy was convicted of assault after a late-night brawl outside a pub. Vardy was fitted with an electronic probation tag, which he even had to wear during matches. This meant that Vardy had to substitute himself early in games in order to make it home before his curfew. Despite this, he managed 66 goals in 107 appearances for the club.
In 2010, his impressive form alerted Northern Premier League side Halifax Town. Vardy scored 27 goals in his debut season for Halifax, which earned him a move to Fleetwood shortly into the 2011/12 season.
After netting 34 goals in 40 games for Fleetwood (and receiving the Player of the Year award), Leicester signed Vardy for £1 million. This was a non-league record fee.
Vardy struggled initially with the Foxes, and managed only 5 goals in his first season; the lowest tally of his professional career.
However, “The Cannon” soon established himself as an integral part of the Leicester side, and fired 16 goals to fire the Foxes to first place in the Championship in the 2013/14 season.
His fiery nature seems to work in his favour on the pitch. Vardy is tenacious and determined when he doesn’t have the ball, and lethal when he has it.
In his debut Premier League season (2014/15), Vardy received plaudits for his industry and attitude, but he struggled to find the net regularly. He scored just five times in the league as Leicester narrowly avoided relegation.
Vardy did turn in a stunning man of the match performance in September as Leicester beat Man United 5-3, and won the Premier League Player of the Month award in April 2015.
This led to an England call up in May, and Vardy made his debut as a substitute against the Republic of Ireland, ending his season on a high.
He was then enshrouded in controversy in August, when a video emerged of a drunken Vardy racially abusing an Asian man in a casino. Vardy apologised for the incident, and was forced to undertake an educational course by Leicester, who also fined the fiery striker.
The summer appointment of Claudio Ranieri has hugely benefited both Vardy and Leicester this season. Vardy has been unplayable thus far, and shows no sign of letting up.
Everyone loves an underdog, and Jamie Vardy has followed in the footsteps of Rickie Lambert and Charlie Austin to make it all the way to the top against the odds.
With 11 goals in his first 11 games, and the Golden Boot within his sights, the fairytale is far from over…
by David Smith