Jamie Vardy’s story is nothing short of a football fairytale; a young boy who, like the legend George Best, was told early on that he was too small to play, helped his club Leicester City achieve the impossible in 2016, and as an England international has become a household name. Considering his journey to the pinnacle of the beautiful game, Vardy has achieved success like no other player in English football.
Born in 1987 in Sheffield to working class parents, Vardy’s career began with Sheffield Wednesday. He was released from the club at the age of 16, due to concerns that he was too small to play. Fortunately he returned to club football, playing for local Stocksbridge Park Steels and subsequently Fleetwood Town in 2011. Vardy scored 31 goals that season for the club, and ultimately attracted the attention of Leicester City, who at the time were a Championship club.
Leicester Manager, Nigel Pearson, paid Fleetwood £1 million for Vardy, a figure that was the highest fee paid for a non-league player. The club eventually handed him a five-year deal worth £45,000 a week, which at the time was an astounding £2.25 million increase in yearly wages in just four years. Pearson, however, knew talent when he spotted it and Vardy’s performance for Leicester justified his price tag. Vardy became the only player in the Premier League to score in 11 consecutive matches, surpassing the 12-year record held by Ruud Van Nistelrooy at Manchester United.
Vardy’s performance during Leicester City’s 2015/16 season was nothing short of remarkable as he helped his club achieve what many, including Leicester fans, believed was impossible. With only 3 losses and an incredible 81 points in 38 English Premier League (EPL) games, Vardy helped Leicester finished 10 points clear of Arsenal, and a whopping 15 points ahead of giants Manchester City and Manchester United.
Leicester’s performance will go down in the annals of the EPL together with Arsenal’s “Invincibles” during the 2003/04 season, City’s incredible century of points during the 2017/18 season, and Manchester United’s famous treble during the 1998/99 season, in which they won the Premier League, FA Cup and the Champions League. Despite facing relegation a season before, and struggling in the following season, the 2015/16 Leicester City team will go down in history as one of the greatest ever football teams to upset the hierarchy of elite football.
The 31-year-old striker remains an integral part of Leicester City. An incredible rise for a non-league player just 6 years ago, Vardy has become a star at home, and on the international stage where he helped England qualify for the World Cup in Russia and finish in 4th place, following England’s best World Cup performance since 1990. His success has had a tremendous impact on non-league football in the UK and as we previously mentioned on The Non-League Paper, Vardy is an inspiration to players everywhere, who will now be watched more closely by EPL scouts.