Across Vardy’s eight years at the Football Club, the Sheffield-born striker has been catapulted, almost entirely by his own ability and determination, into a status of one of the most famous footballers on the planet – a real-life embodiment of every young player’s dream. It’s been a fairy tale rise to the top.
This week, he extended his association with the Club for another year, until 2023, following a campaign which saw him become a member of the Premier League 100 Club and scoop the Golden Boot prize.
It is truly inconceivable that Vardy thought any of his achievements at King Power Stadium could have been possible when he signed from Non-League Fleetwood Town in 2012.
Released by Sheffield Wednesday at the age of 16, local side Stocksbridge Park Steels was Vardy's next destination – for three seasons – before netting 26 goals for Halifax Town in 2010/11 and another 31 for Fleetwood in the in the Conference Premier the following year.
The decision to sign Jamie Vardy from Fleetwood Town proved to be one of the most inspired moves of recent times.
That was the backdrop of his move to Leicester. He arrived an accomplished Non-League player who clearly had a unique ability to find the net, but could he do it in the Championship? Indeed, Vardy actually struggled during his maiden season at the Club, netting a modest four goals in 2012/13, and being left on the bench for City’s Play-Off Semi-Final against Watford.
As Nigel Pearson’s men licked their wounds following that late heartbreak in Hertfordshire, the Foxes manager and his backroom team listened closely to Vardy’s concerns and reassured him that he was at the heart of their strategy to mount a sturdier promotion bid in 2013/14. They believed in his potential and knew he could unlock it at a higher level.
During that season, Vardy scored 16 goals and Leicester were promoted as Championship champions with a Club record 102 points, ending a 10-year absence from the Premier League.
The Foxes No.9 hit the ground running in his second season in the Championship as the Club won the second-tier title.
However, there was still no guarantee that he could establish himself in the top-flight and provide the goals City would need to avoid their return being limited to a solitary season. The sheer volume of fans wearing shirts with his name on the back, though, demonstrated the incredible impact his never-say-die performances had made on the Blue Army.
Anyone with doubts fell silent on Sunday 21 September, 2014 as Vardy played a role in every single goal – netting one of his own – in a stunning 5-3 comeback win over Manchester United.
By the end of 2014/15, the Foxes were safe after winning seven of their last nine games to climb from bottom to 14th and Vardy was an England international. The following March, he netted for the Three Lions against Germany in Berlin just six years after leaving Stocksbridge’s Bracken Moor Stadium.
A deft flick to score for the Three Lions against Germany at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.
To jump that far in telling Vardy’s story, though, would be a mistake as the months which preceded that memorable night in the German capital included the achievement which Vardy will perhaps be best remembered for once his magical career one day comes to a close.
Claudio Ranieri’s Foxes were everyone’s favourites for relegation in 2015/16. Their 5,000/1 title odds, meanwhile, were even greater than the 1,000/1 offered for Elvis Presley being found alive.
Nonetheless, a 4-2 opening-day success over Sunderland was merely a precursor for perhaps the greatest-ever achievement in the modern history of team sport. The 10-month campaign would end with footage of Vardy hoisting the Premier League trophy aloft being beamed across the globe in May 2016 and deep into the summer.
Eleven-heaven for Jamie Vardy against Manchester United, breaking Ruud van Nistelrooy's record.
Alongside Kasper Schmeichel, Wes Morgan, N'Golo Kanté, Riyad Mahrez et al., he was one of the major protagonists of a season nobody – Leicester fans or otherwise – will ever forget.
Between Saturday 29 August and Saturday 28 November, Vardy scored in every single one of his 11-straight top-flight appearances – smashing a record achieved by Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2003 – and making him the only man to enjoy such an intrepid goalscoring run in a single season.
From Non-League to becoming a Premier League champion at Leicester City.
In total, the former Fleetwood striker struck 24 times in 2015/16, the highest top-flight total for any Foxes striker since Gary Lineker hit the same tally 31 years earlier.
From that season onwards, including the present campaign, Vardy has reached double figures in the Premier League on each occasion – and finished this term with 23 to his name and the Golden Boot.
His away goal at FC Sevilla in the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 in February 2016 ultimately proved to be vital for the Foxes in a 3-2 aggregate triumph over the Spanish side, culminating in possibly the most dramatic game ever to be staged at King Power Stadium.
Scoring a hat-trick in perhaps Leicester City's greatest-ever Premier League performance.
While the Foxes fell at the last-eight stage of European football’s platinum club competition, the Club has longed for a return to Europe – and Vardy’s goals have added credence to those ambitions.
Whether it be a stylish volley away at West Bromwich Albion, a sublime lob against Tottenham Hotspur at home, or the sumptuous hat-trick in the 9-0 rout of Southampton last term, City’s No.9 has always been a reliable source of goals for a side determined to improve which each passing year.
Twenty-three goals in 2019/20 makes Jamie Vardy a Golden Boot winner at the age of 33.
It would not be unrealistic to say there’s no other player at the elite level of the game quite like Vardy, who combines frightening agility with a lethal eye for goal and an unrelenting appetite to pester opposition defenders, often turning lost causes into legitimate opportunities in a heartbeat.
Vardy now stands on 103 Premier League goals in just six seasons at the top level, contributing to an overall tally of 129 competitive strikes for the Club. With three more years of the Jamie Vardy story at Leicester City yet to be told, it would be unwise to bet against him writing another incredible chapter.
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