Dedication and hard work key to Jamie Vardy’s rise

His club are fast becoming the story of this Premier League season so far, and alongside Leicester City’s exploits under new manager Claudio Ranieri, it is a former non-league prodigy who is making a name for himself in the East Midlands.

Jamie Vardy continues to impress on a weekly basis and his goals have propelled Leicester City to the heady heights of third. Nine in as many matches is as prolific as it gets for a striker, leaving him just one short of equalling Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record of 10 goals in consecutive matches set back in 2003.

What is astounding is how his club have been able to continue the incredible momentum that catapulted them to an unlikely escape from relegation last season.

That was under former manager Nigel Pearson, but both the club and Vardy have picked up where they left off last term accumulating as many points in 12 games (25) as they accrued in 31 games last season.

Vardy has been transformed from somebody who only netted five goals in his maiden top flight campaign and a figure who was criticised for being handed an England call-up in the summer, to a proven talisman.

It is a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for an individual who is seemingly a certainty to remain in Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2016 plans, providing he can maintain his current form and, perhaps more importantly, stave off the dreaded injuries that have plagued both Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck.

With modern footballers often lambasted for a lack of effort, Vardy does not fall into that category.

Picking himself up from being released by Sheffield Wednesday as a youngster, he rebuilt his career in non-league football with Stocksbridge Park Steels, Halifax Town and Fleetwood Town. Perhaps it was the inner drive to prove his early doubters wrong that has got Vardy to where he is today.

After all, it is this relentless work ethic that has seen him prove wrong those who felt that an England call-up was unwarranted on the basis of only five goals last season. It has driven Vardy to the next level, and it may well be that Leicester and England bear the rewards of this in the months to come.

It is even alleged that upon signing for Leicester in 2012, Vardy had a bonus inserted into his contract relating to being capped by England which highlights the confidence he had then, at a time when both he and Leicester were in the Championship.

This was also a player who, at the time, had never kicked a ball higher than the Conference. His goal against Manchester United in Leicester’s famous 5-3 win in September 2014 was a sign of what he could bring to the Premier League, but full credit must be given to Ranieri for installing a system that plays to his strengths. There is nothing complicated about it.

Here you have a stereotypical striker that prowls on defenders and capitalises on their lapses. Vardy is deceptively quick and has also been the beneficiary of terrific supply from the likes of Danny Drinkwater, Marc Albrighton and Riyad Mahrez.

If his terrific form, similar to that displayed by Tottenham’s Harry Kane this time last season, continues, then at the very least he will be in contention for a place in the England squad for next summer’s European Championships.

England have long been criticised for having a lack of options, but it seems Hodgson is more inundated with forwards than he has been for some time.

His story also dispels the myth about the quality in non-league football. It is, and always has been, a good standard and there are many more Vardys waiting to be discovered.

It will also provide inspiration to hundreds like him that a route via non-league into the professional game is attainable. He was not the first, and he certainly will not be the last.

 

Image courtesy of Dom Fellowes

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