Jamie Vardy’s phenomenal journey is the epitome of every footballer’s dream, his meteoric rise is one of fairy tales and has resonated into the hearts of lower league footballers, amateurs and aspiring players alike.
Given his ascendancy from eighth-tier Stocksbridge Park Steels little over ten years ago to one of the Premier League’s best strikers, it seems Jamie Vardy has a plethora of ambition and has become a faithful stalwart to East Midland’s club Leicester.
Vardy’s Humble Beginnings
Jamie Vardy had been part of the Sheffield Wednesday academy before being released at 16 enduring a nosedive down the league tiers to Stocksbridge Park Steels. Sheffield Wednesday, at the time, had no idea who they possessed in their ranks.
The gift of foresight for the Sheffield club was clearly unattainable and the then young Vardy found himself at the bowels of lower league football.
The Sheffield born frontman was earning less than a price of a Leicester home ticket, but his love of the game propelled him and his performances caught the eye of a handful of League 1 and League 2 outfits. Vardy eventually agreed on a move to Halifax for a modest fee of £15,000 for his services.
Vardy’s transition was simple, and Halifax Town had acquired a more than capable goal scorer as the centre forward bagged 25 goals – making him the club’s top scorer as they won the Northern Premier Title.
Vardy was amongst the goals again the following season, when the target man signed for Fleetwood Town for a handsome £150,000, firing an impressive 34 goals in for the Lancashire club.
Leicester came knocking in 2012, after a variety of differing bids, but the Championship club was where the hitman put pen to paper. Jamie Vardy’s service was ready for the Championship and the once non-league player was not to disappoint.
Carving Out Form
Stepping up to the Championship from non-league seemed a step too far for even someone of Vardy’s goal scoring statue, with outsiders and pundits alike criticising the ambitious player’s potential.
The Leicester player wasted no time, flying out of the traps on his debut terrorising the opposition. Vardy started well scoring on his debut, but shortly afterwards he found he was fitting square pegs into round holes and his form dipped.
What pundits questioned turned into a harsh reality and Vardy endured a torrid season of criticism. The Fleetwood signing even considered hanging up his boots at one point after finding it impossible to find form, but Nigel Pearson and Craig Shakespeare persuaded him to stick it out.
The 2013-14 season was to be the making of Jamie Vardy and a glimpse of what the striker had tucked away in his locker.
His work rate, searing pace and attitude was all on full display for all to see as he buried 16 goals over the season and helped the East Midlands club finish top of the championship and a place in England’s top tier of football.
The Faithful Fox
The 2014-15 season arrived and Vardy was raring to go in the biggest league in the world. He started the season by signing a new contract to keep him at the King Power until 2018. Vardy’s first taste of goal that season was against Manchester United which earned him a man of the match performance, he scored and set up another four goals to cause a 5-3 upset.
His performances in the Premier League caught the eye of the national team and his persistence and determination earned the Sheffield born footballer a dream call up to the England squad. His years of grinding and in lower divisions of English football while juggling a job was eventually paying dividends.
After narrowly surviving the relegation trap door, finishing in 14th place, not much was expected of the club as Pearson was shown his P45 and Italian veteran Claudio Ranieri took the reins. The decision to pull the plug on Pearson infuriated the majority of Leicester fans, who were more than happy to have just survived their first season back in the Premier League.
The Underdog Fairy Tale
The club headed into the 2015-16 season with little ambition other than the established Italian manager’s new direction. Little did the Foxes know that bigger things were to come, 5000/1 big things.
To put that price into perspective, footballing odds are vastly different since the Foxes shell-shocked the world with their triumph. The 2015-16 season was one that will be remembered until the end of footballing time. Leicester City were about to cement a place in the history books with Jamie Vardy steering the ship.
Under Ranieri, the Foxes demonstrated a herculean start to the season putting Sunderland to the sword in a convincing 4-2 victory. They went on another five undefeated before meeting a resilient Arsenal team, finally succumbing to defeat. Leicester’s response was one of champions, taking 23 points from the next 27 available.
Leicester capitalised on the inconsistency of the top teams and rallied together to swipe points from where they believed they should get them. They lost only three matches in the entire campaign, and recorded 12 one goal difference wins.
The Leicester players celebrated the greatest night of their footballing lives at Jamie Vardy’s house, where they gathered to watch the penultimate Spurs match. After Tottenham failed to beat Chelsea, City were confirmed Premier League Champions on May 2 and Jamie Vardy had been catapulted into the upper echelons of football.