When Manchester United and Dutch legend Ruud Van Nistelrooy struck against Newcastle United on August 23rd 2003 he secured a record that seemed unbreakable, scoring in 10 consecutive Premier League games. At the same time 16 year old Jamie Vardy had just been released by Sheffield Wednesday, going on to sign for non league Stocksbridge Park Steels. 12 years on and Vardy is on the brink of equalling Van Nistelrooy’s record. Today’s penalty against Watford meant Vardy had scored in 9 consecutive Premier League games, with the next game (oddly against Newcastle) offering the Englishman a chance to write his name into the record books.
Looking back at Jamie Vardy’s career is true Roy of The Rovers stuff. Signing for non league Stocksbridge in 2003, it took Jamie until 2007 before he broke into their first team. Under manager Gary Marrow, the South Yorkshire side enjoyed a string of successful seasons with Jamie Vardy in the side. In his first full season with the club they narrowly missed out on promotion from the prestigious Unibond League Division 1 South, losing in the play off semi final to local rivals Sheffield F.C.
In Vardy’s second full season Stocksbridge secured promotion via the play offs and football league clubs started to pay notice to the 20 year old. Earning a measly £30 a week Vardy was obviously keen to secure a move higher up the ladder. A week long trail at Crewe Alexandra proved unsuccessful and the striker later turned down a contract from Rotherham United. After an impressive 66 goals in 107 games the Stocksbridge chapter of Vardy’s career drew to an end.
Moving up Non-League
After signing for Northern Premier League side F.C Halifax Town the Englishman settled in superbly. Despite spending little over a year at the club, Vardy’s tremendous form had a large impact on the club. Hitting the back of the net 27 times over the season and winning the league title is a wonderful way to announce yourself to the fans. It looked as though his form would continue too, as he started off the next season with 3 goals in the opening 4 games. Though at this level it’s difficult to hold onto impactful players when clubs from higher leagues come calling and come calling they did.
Deciding to move up towards the coast, Vardy moved to Conference Premier side Fleetwood Town as he continued his quest to the football league. Thankfully for Fleetwood their new signing showed he could adjust to this new level. Leading the line for the Cod army superbly as they narrowly won the Conference title and achieved football league status. Vardy returned 31 goals from 36 games and was on the radar of several clubs. After playing Blackpool in the F.A Cup, Vardy impressed manager Ian Holloway so much that he offered the club £750,000 for the forward. The club rejected it in the hope of more money which they shortly received in the form of a non league record.
Jump to the Championship and above
Leicester City reportedly signed Vardy for £1 million as they looked lower down for new players. Jamie got off to a scoring start as usual, netting on his debut against Torquay in the league cup. Unfortunately, for the first time in years, Jamie couldn’t continue his prolific form. He continued to work hard though it was not reaping the goals it had previously done. In fact he considered leaving the sport, only to be won over by Nigel Pearson convincing him to keep going.
In his second season Vardy shone much brighter, striking in 16 goals as Leicester won the Championship. Two years after playing non league football Jamie Vardy was a Premier League footballer. It didn’t take long for Vardy to announce himself to the world either. Leicester were getting a reputation for their energetic performances yet weren’t always receiving the results they deserved. One particular game showed Vardy’s talent and Leicester’s perseverance perfectly, the visit of Manchester United. Despite going down 3-1 to the Reds, Leicester fought back to win 5-3 with Vardy scoring one and assisting the other four.
Their Premier League status was nearly lost however, a string of disappointing results lead to Leicester being certain for relegation. Though a spirited Leicester, managed by Nigel Pearson, took an impressive 22 points from their last 9 games to end the season in an impressive 14th place. No one expected Vardy and Leicester to continue those results into the 2015/16 season though under new manager Claudio Ranieri they have done so.
Currently sitting in 3rd place Leicester have started this season superbly and Vardy can be rightfully praised for this run of form. With 11 games in 11 games so far this season, Jamie has adjusted to Premier League life easily and is scoring for fun currently. This form has even seen the player break into the England squad, albeit so far on the fringes and out of position (a point on which he and Roy Hodgson have publicly squabbled over).
If Vardy happens to score against Newcastle and equal Van Nistelrooy’s record, the game that would decide whether he can beat it would be against Manchester United. The striker is on the form of his life currently and it’s entirely possible he will score against a struggling Newcastle side but can he then score against one of the meanest defences in the league? If he can, Vardy is completely justified in demanding he lead the line for England. It’s amazing that in todays world of elite sportsmen that a football can journey from non league to Premier League record breaker in 8 years. The majority of football fans across England will be hoping Jamie Vardy breaks the record (Newcastle and Man United fans aside) and continues to score fantasy football points galore.