Man Of Steel: The Rags-To-Riches Rise of A Premier League Star

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The story of how Jamie Vardy turned himself from a £30-a-week part-timer into a league champion!

Leicester striker Jamie Vardy

Vardy Never Stopped Dreaming

When he was tearfully shown the door at Sheffield Wednesday at the age of 16, Vardy still dreamed that one day he could become a professional footballer.

When he was clocking on for a 12-hour factory shift manufacturing medical splints while earning £30-a-week playing part-time football for Stocksbridge Park Steels in the Northern Premier League, he still dreamed that one day he’d be scoring goals in the Premier League.

For most of us those dreams never came true. As for Jamie Vardy? Well, we know how that fairytale ended. And it’s a heartwarming story that deserves to be told again and again.

The Big Break

A true son of Sheffield whose father was a crane worker, Vardy knew all about hard work and never losing faith, two characteristics that served him well while scoring goals for Stocksbridge waiting for that big break.

He didn’t make his first-team debut for Stocksbridge until he was 20, an age when most youngsters would have lost any hope of making it as a pro.

Not Vardy. Lots of graft and plenty of goals earned him a move to Halifax, then to Conference Premier side Fleetwood and finally, after Blackpool had been snubbed for his signature and at the venerable age of 25, he moved to Leicester City of the Championship for a giveaway £1million.

The Lows and the Highs

Desperate to grab this belated opportunity he had worked so hard for, Vardy’s fortunes at the King Power were initially mixed.

His first season in the second tier was tough – 26 appearances, four goals – and the crowd were regularly on his back. Despite the sweat spilled getting this far, he was ready to throw in the towel and but for words of encouragement from Nigel Pearson he may well have done so.

Twelve months later and his manager’s faith in him was vindicated with Vardy scoring 16 goals and being crowned Player of the Year as Leicester won promotion to the Promised Land. At the age of 27, Vardy had finally realised his dream – but the best was yet to come.

The Impossible Can Happen

Vardy just had to keep pinching himself. There was a first Premier League goal – at Old Trafford of all places – and more headline-winning displays in a successful fight against relegation. There was even a first England call-up.

Incredibly, there was also a mooted move to Sheffield Wednesday though The Owls pulled out and Pearson left, paving the way for the most extraordinary chapter in this remarkable story, a story that would end in the 5,000/1 Foxes, managed by Claudio Ranieri at the time and inspired by their 24-goal frontman, winning the Premier League title.

And Jamie Vardy hasn’t stopped scoring since, claiming the 2019-20 Premier League Golden Boot. You see, dreams can come true!

A sports journalist for over 15 years, Aidan has been part of written and audio coverage on a wide-ranging number of events. Having played and coached at amateur level, he offers in-depth insight and opinion into the world of football in particular.

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