Leicester City have done the unthinkable and claimed an astonishing Premier League title, with many dubbing it the greatest sports fairytale story ever. No fairytale is complete without a hero at the heart of the story, and at the heart of the Foxes’ season is striker Jamie Vardy. Vardy set Leicester on their way by scoring in a record breaking eleven consecutive matches, and he now has 22 goals with two games remaining. For his breathtaking season, Vardy has been named the FWA Footballer of the Year. However, things were not always quite so glamorous for the 29-year-old.
10. He’s Getting Married in May
As if the last twelve months (and beyond) have not been incredible enough for Jamie Vardy, he is about to top it off by marrying his long term girlfriend, Rebekah Nicholson, who is also the mother of his daughter, Sofia, who was born in December 2014. The pair are set to tie the knot at the end of May, which will be just after Leicester City’s astonishing season comes to a close and he and his teammates will have lifted the Premier League trophy. It was reported that the wedding was rescheduled in case Vardy received an England call up to the Euros, so he will now be a married man once England play their first game of the highly anticipated tournament. Nicholson is frequently sighted with Vardy and appears regularly in the press, and she also regularly takes to Twitter to defend her future husband from any critics.
9. He is a Premier League Record Holder
Even though this is only his second season in the Premier League, it is the one where Jamie Vardy has become a household name and a highly praised striker. Last season, he scored just five goals in 36 appearances (although two were crucial game winners), as the Foxes barely avoided relegation. But this season has been a completely different story for Vardy and Leicester. Vardy got off to a flying start and scored in an incredible 11 Premier League games in a row. This eclipsed the previous record set by former Man United striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy (ironically, it was against Man United that Cardy claimed the record). For his brilliant run, Vardy won the Premier League Player of the Month Award for October. Whilst his rate slowed, he has scored 22 goals this season with two games remaining, which is only bettered by Man City’s Sergio Aguero (23) and Tottenham’s Harry Kane (25). But neither of them can call themselves champion this year.
8. He Launched an Academy for Non-League Players
Even though he is now a Premier League champion, an England international and one of the most prolific scorers in the world, Vardy has not forgotten his challenging and gritty rise through the English football leagues. Wanting to give more players in non-league situations the opportunity to showcase their abilities, Jamie Vardy set up an academy in 2015 called the V9 Academy. This is a week long camp where 60 non-league players receive coaching and guidance from professionals, and they can also showcase their talents to scouts from league clubs. Whilst still in its infancy, this could be a fantastic pathway for talented players who are struggling to get noticed to impress scouts and get their big break. Not only could this be beneficial for the player and league clubs, but also for English football as a whole, as it shines a light on home grown talent.
7. He Was Convicted of Assault in 2007
Although there is plenty to celebrate in Jamie Vardy’s rise to stardom and the success he has found with Leicester this season, there is also a darker side to his story too. During his days at Stocksbridge as a young man, Vardy got into a fight outside of a pub, which saw him receive a conviction for assault. Vardy was ordered by the judge to wear an electronic tag for six months, where he would have to be in his home by 6 p.m. This limited his playing time, so Vardy would play for Stocksbridge while wearing the tag and then sprint home in order to meet his curfew. Unfortunately it is not the only blemish on his resume, as in 2015 Vardy was caught on camera using racist language in a casino. He immediately apologized, but was fined by Leicester who also put him on an educational course.
6. He Did Factory Work to Supplement His Income
An inspirational rags to riches story, as a young man Vardy was working in a carbon fiber splint factory where he would make medical splints and work 12-hour shifts. It was during his time playing for Stocksbridge, where he was earning just £30 a week to play football. At this time, you can imagine Vardy daydreaming of an incredible rise through the ranks to one day play in the Premier League, put on the England shirt, and lift the Premier League trophy. Little did Vardy know that this incredible rise was only just around the corner, and one day he would be one of the most talked about football players on the planet. For the majority of star players who go on to play for their national team, they will have been scouted from a young age. Very few would face a journey as challenging as Vardy.
5. A Story Fit For Hollywood
Many people have commented on how Vardy and Leicester’s rise to the top is like a Hollywood film. Studio execs apparently agree, as a biopic on Vardy is in the works, set to be directed by Adrian Butchart. The film could hit cinemas as early as 2017, but the big question is who will be playing Vardy and all the other key individuals in the remarkable story. Butchart claims to be contacted daily by actors and musicians, but so far the strong rumors include One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson to play Vardy, hard man and former footballer Vinnie Jones to play former manager Nigel Pearson, and even the Mother of Dragons from Game of Thrones, Emilia Clarke, to play Vardy’s girlfriend. It is said that the project has not yet got underway, as they are waiting to see if Vardy can come up with further heroics at the European championships this summer.
4. He Was Rejected For Being “Too Small”
Anyone that has watched Leicester City and Jamie Vardy this season is fully aware of what a talented goalscorer he is. He has been nothing short of prolific this season and scored in a number of ways. Apparently this talent was not clear from a young age, as he was once rejected by Sheffield Wednesday (his hometown team) as a 16-year-old for being “too small.” After being released by Sheffield, Vardy joined the Stocksbridge Park Steels youth system. He advanced to the first team in 2007. Although Vardy impressed, a move to a Football League side never materialized despite having a trial with Crew Alexandra. In 2010, Halifax Town came knocking and it marked the start of a meteoric rise that you only see in video games like FIFA.
3. He Was Playing Non-League Football in 2012
Jamie Vardy has become a household name for any soccer fan and perhaps the most talked about player of the campaign. This is thanks to his brilliant goalscoring exploits which have helped to take his team to an incredible Premier League title, and along the way he has earned a call up to the England team and has been named the FWA Footballer of the Year. A great season for any player, but what is so striking about Vardy is the fact that he was still playing non-league football as recently as 2012. Vardy had humble beginnings at FC Halifax Town, where he signed in 2010 for £15,000. Halifax play in the Northern Premier League Premier Division, which is a non-league division (leagues that are not professional). Vardy would play with Fleetwood Town in the Conference Premier the following season, which is the lowest division in the English football league system.
2. He Signed for Leicester City for Just £1 million
After bagging a league best 31 goals for Fleetwood Town in the 2011/2012 season, Vardy powered his team the Conference title and their first ever promotion to the Football League (the three professional divisions below the Premier League). This did not go unnoticed, and Leicester City (who were in the Championship) signed Vardy ahead of the 2012/13 season for a reported fee of £1 million (a non-league record). However, things did not go entirely to plan this season as he lost his form, which drew plenty of criticism from Leicester fans. Things got so bad for Vardy, that he even considered quitting football completely. However, Nigel Pearson (manager at the time) convinced him to stick with the club, which would turn out to be a good call, as things very quickly turned around for Vardy and Leicester City the following season.
1. His Roller Coaster Seasons
In the past three seasons, Vardy has won the Championship, narrowly avoided relegation, and the won the Premier League. After Vardy’s struggles in his debut season at Leicester, things turned around in the 2013/14 season where he recaptured his prolific form to help Leicester earn promotion to the Premier League and be named their Player of the Season. Then in the bright lights of the Premier League, Vardy scored just five goals. But two of them were vital to Leicester’s survival, as they ended the season on an incredible run of seven wins from nine games to avoid relegation, despite being at the bottom of the table in mid-April. After narrowly escaping relegation, Leicester started the season as 5,000-1 underdogs to lift the title. We all know how that turned out for Vardy and the rest of the Foxes.