FEATURE: Jamie Vardy. Zero to hero as V9 academy shines.

‘The Jamie Vardy story’ – a fantasy being chased by Hollywood, an adventure known by many and a story which gives belief to many aspiring non-league players.

The 2016/17 season was full of optimism for the newly crowned Premier League Champions and Vardy himself, yet it was a season which certainly had its ups and downs for Leicester’s number nine. Scoring 16 goals in all competitions for Leicester, he had a well-deserved break on his hands after a resilient season for the Foxes.

After missing England duty for games against Scotland and France due to injury, Vardy’s summer break has certainly not been all sunshine and sun-beds after the introduction of the V9 Academy. Forty-two non-league players were selected for Vardy’s academy with five players joining up with English football league clubs for pre-season training as a result.

Consequently, the Academy became a great prospect for the future for non-league players looking for a similar fairy-tale to Vardy and will hopefully continue to find the big pool of untapped talent which as of now is mostly going unnoticed. Vardy came through the game the hard way with appearances for Stocksbridge Park Steels, FC Halifax and Fleetwood before making his way to the East Midlands for £1m to join Nigel Pearson and Leicester, making him the most expensive non-league player in history.

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After being rejected at the age of 15 by his boyhood club Sheffield Wednesday and going onto play for £30 a week at Stocksbridge while working at a local factory producing medical splints, Jamie is now showing hard work and determination pays off and has appeared for his national side 16 times bagging himself six goals in the process.

Not bad from a boy from Sheffield who only ten years ago was convicted for assault and played for six months with an electronic tag fitted to his ankle, making him an easy target for many central defenders. Now he is most central defender’s idea of a nightmare but what is in stall for him in the 2017/18 season and why is he such an asset to the foxes who are dreaming of another taste of European football at the King Power. 

Vardy is the epitome of the Leicester City squad, a never give up attitude and a fearless nature. After struggling to find his way after joining Leicester in 2012 he is now a King Power favourite and has certainly been a vital part in Leicester’s success. For a Leicester City fan there is no better sight then Vardy through one-on-one with just the keeper to beat as 9/10 times the ball will ripple the back of the net.

This is the part of Vardy’s game that does not let him down. However, last season he struggled on some occasions to link with his team mates and became constantly frustrated with over the top balls which he burst a gut to retrieve but became unsuccessful on a bundle of occasions. Come August, it’s vital Vardy sticks to his non-league roots and does everything which made him the success he is today. Be a nightmare for defenders, cause havoc, get stuck in, work with his team, chase everything down and most importantly: provide Leicester with as many goals as possible.

In a World Cup year, its important Vardy cements his place within the national team by proving his worth while playing as the first line of attack for the Foxes. Apart from Tottenham’s Harry Kane, nobody is certain of a place on the plane to Russia and depending on Southgate’s formation choice, Vardy may be a fundamental part of England’s success in Russia.

After nearly quitting football to become an Ibiza holiday rep, current Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare persuaded him to stay at Leicester and fight for his place. I’m sure he won’t be making his way to Ibiza anytime soon, for work that is anyway.

Written by Eamon Kitching.

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