Over the next few weeks we’ll be looking at some of the notable former players who have graced The Shay turf and see where their career has taken them.
We couldn’t start anywhere else other than Premier League winner and former England International Jamie Vardy. Having represented his country at Euro 2016 and at the 2018 World Cup, as well as playing in the Champions League with Leicester City and of course winning that miraculous Premier League medal.
Vardy is an inspiration to all players at all levels. Having been released by Sheffield Wednesday in 2007 at the age of 16, Vardy then decided to join local non-league side Stocksbridge Park Steels. It wasn’t long before Vardy was in The Steels first team earning £30 a week.
Vardy was impressing scouts of higher up clubs even as far as the Football League with Crewe Alexandra and Rotherham United rumoured to be interested in his talents. In 2010 then Shaymen boss Neil Aspin signed Vardy for £15,000. In just over a year with The Shaymen Vardy played a pivotal role in winning the Northern Premier League Premier Division in 2010/11, finishing top-scorer with 25 goals in 37 appearances. Unsurprisingly Vardy went into the next season with lots of potential suitors from clubs higher up. Vardy started the 2011/12 season with Town carrying over his form over the summer scoring three goals in four games.
Conference Premier side Fleetwood Town picked up Vardy for their push for promotion in August 2011. Vardy finished his one and only season with Fleetwood with the Conference Premier League Title and Conference Premier top scorer with 31 goals. Vardy’s stock value rose in-particularity in Fleetwood’s FA Cup run. Vardy scored goals in wins over League One sides Wycombe Wanderers and Yeovil Town. Ian Holloway was so impressed with Vardy after the Yeovil game he offered £750,000. Fleetwood declined due to them wanting one million pounds and a loan back to the end of the season.
The million pound offer came in the summer of 2012 from Leicester City, making Vardy the first million pound non-league player. Vardy started brightly with The Foxes scoring on his debut. But his early season formed disintegrated and Vardy considered leaving football until Nigel Pearson and Craig Shakespeare intervened. Vardy came back the next season better than before, winning the player’s player award and bagging 16 league goals as Leicester returned to the Premier League.
First season at Premier League level Leicester were naturally one of the favourites to go down. Fantastic end of season form saw The Foxes pick up 22 points in the final month with Vardy finding the net with the occasional injury time winner. This end of season form saw him picked by Roy Hodgson in his squad for Euro 2016 qualifiers against Republic of Ireland and Slovenia. Vardy made his debut coming on for Wayne Rooney in Dublin in a goalless draw. It would be hard to pick a better team to score against and where to score for your first England goal. In March 2016 Vardy pulled of a cheeky back-heeled finish against Germany in Berlin in a 3-2 win for The Three Lions.
In the season that will forever be remembered for Leicester completing the impossible, 5000/1 they were at the beginning of the 2015/16 to win The Premier League. Vardy couldn’t of started the season more perfectly, he broke Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s Premier League consecutive goals scored in a game record, Van Nistelrooy had it set at 10 consecutive games. Vardy equalled the record in a 3-0 win over Newcastle and got the record for himself in a 1-1 draw against Manchester United. The Foxes went on to win the league by 10 points in May 2016.
Vardy now had risen to the top of club football, he was now leading the line for Leicester City in The Champions League. Vardy initial struggled in for form domestically and in Europe. Vardy’s first Champions League goal was a vital away goal in Seville in a 2-1 defeat. The Foxes were able to win the return leg and qualify for the next round. Vardy scored again against Athletico Madrid but it wasn’t enough to keep The Foxes in the competition.
Vardy is still at Leicester now with the backing of new manager Brendan Rodgers it is hard to see him leaving a club where he has enjoyed so much success. But I’m sure Town fans will remember him fondly pulling on The Shaymen shirt and banging in the goals.
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