Jamie Vardy, from amateur to EPL's best in just five years
London: In an age when youngsters are recruited by leading clubs before they have even mastered the art of shoelace-tying, Jamie Vardy’s rise to prominence with Leicester City is an exceptional story.
Five years ago, Vardy was playing amateur football for Stocksbridge Park Steels in England’s seventh tier and working part-time at a factory making medical splints.
If Vardy finds the net against Manchester United today, the native of Sheffield will set a new Premier League record of scoring in 11 consecutive games
Now he is an England international whose 13 goals have taken him clear of Sergio Aguero, Diego Costa and Wayne Rooney in the Premier League scoring charts and propelled Leicester to the top of the table. "He's an example to every aspiring young footballer," former Leicester captain Steve Walsh told AFP. "Leicester is buzzing, and all because of Jamie Vardy and his records."
If Vardy finds the net against Manchester United today, the native of Sheffield will set a new Premier League record of scoring in 11 consecutive games.
Released by boyhood club Sheffield Wednesday aged 15 on the grounds that he was too small, Vardy cannot have imagined that he would one day be EPL's leading goal-scorer. After leaving Wednesday he spent time away from football, studying sports science at a local college, before winding up at Stocksbridge, where he progressed through the youth ranks. "He was always first for training and last out," recalls Stocksbridge chairman Allen Bethel. "He was also the life and soul of the party."
Vardy's roguish streak occasionally caused him problems — he was sent off four times in his last season at Stocksbridge, deterring suitors Sheffield United — and he had trouble controlling his temper off the pitch. A conviction for a late-night assault temporarily obliged him to wear an electronic tag and observe an 18:30 pm curfew, which would see him substituted midway through games so that he could get home in time.
Spectacularly prolific, the wiry striker joined Halifax Town from Stocksbridge and then moved on to Fleetwood Town, who sold him to Leicester for a non-league record £1 million in 2012.
Since then, the milestones have zipped past: 16 goals in Leicester’s Championship promotion campaign, five in his first season as a Premier League player and a first England cap last June.
Liverpool and Tottenham reached the Europa League Last 32 on Thursday. Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool defeated Bordeaux 2-1 at Anfield. Henri Saivet scored for Bordeaux while James Milner and Christian Benteke netted for the English giants. Meanwhile, Harry Kane headed Tottenham into the Last 32, the red-hot England striker’s ninth goal in six matches earning Spurs a 1-0 win at Azerbaijani champions Qarabag.