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A tribute to Jamie Vardy – celebrating his incredible rise from being a non-league rookie to a PL icon

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A tribute to Jamie Vardy- celebrating his incredible rise from a non-league rookie to an England star and a Premier League icon

From the obscurity of non-league football to Premier League stardom, Jamie Vardy’s meteoric rise up the footballing pyramid in England has been an incredibly inspiring journey, to say the least.

There is hardly anyone who would have heard about him seven years ago when he was plying his trade with Fleetwood Town in the Conference Premier but he is now a cult hero at Leicester City and a former England international.

There has hardly been any footballer in England in the 21st century who has completed such an exponential rise from a being a non-league rookie to one of the most lethal strikers in the Premier League.

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Joe Lolley, who currently plies his trade in the Championship with Nottingham Forest, could, by some ways, be the nearest example, although he hasn’t matched Vardy’s exploits by any means.

Vardy’s incredible scoring form in Leicester City’s awe-inspiring Premier League triumph made him a cult hero at the club but that is only a part of his newly-found stardom.

Vardy’s consistently impressive performances in the Premier League has transformed him into an icon; a hugely influential figure in English football, and a former England international.

Yes, it might be hard to believe but the once non-league rookie donned the Three Lions jersey at two major tournaments in recent times – 2016 Euro Cup and 2018 FIFA World Cup.

He announced his retirement from international football after scoring 7 goals in 26 appearances for England, with a bulk of those goals coming against top European nations like Spain, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.

Vardy is now 32 but he is still looking good for plenty more in the Premier League for the years to come. However, it is certainly worth revisiting the incredible rise of the Sheffield-born ace, which should go down as one of the most inspirational stories in the history of football.

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Early Years

Vardy started his career in the youth ranks at Sheffield Wednesday but he was released at the age of 16 and joined Stocksbridge Park Steels F.C in 2003.

He made his way through the reserve team and into the first-team before making his debut in 2007 in non-league football. Vardy impressed with his stellar displays at Stocksbridge and attracted interest from elsewhere, whilst a trial at Crewe Alexandra ended in failure.

Vardy, however, continued to excel in non-league football and joined F.C Halifax Town in the Northern Premier League in 2010, scoring 25 goals in 37 appearances in his debut season to propel his new club to a triumphant league campaign.

Vardy’s scoring heroics earned him the Players’ Player of the Year award and after just over a year with Halifax, Vardy signed for Conference Premier outfit Fleetwood Town.

The striker’s first season in the Conference Premier proved to be a fruitful one, as Vardy netted 31 goals in 26 appearances to propel Fleetwood Town to their first-ever promotion to the Football League.

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Entry into the Championship

Vardy’s incredible strike rate at Fleetwood Town, which saw him finish as the top scorer in the Conference Premier, prompted Championship promotion-hopefuls Leicester City to make a move for him. He was offered a first-team role under then manager Nigel Pearson.

As a matter of fact, Vardy never played in League Two and League One and made a direct jump from non-league football to the Championship, which, indeed, is an incredibly bold step for any player.

His first season at Leicester City was not smooth sailing, as Vardy found the net on just 4 occasions in 26 appearances in the second-tier. Leicester’s gamble on Vardy failed to pay the dividends at the first time of asking.

However, Pearson and his assistant Craig Shakespeare convinced him to stay and that would ultimately prove to be another talking point of his rise in football.

Vardy put the disappointment of the 2012-13 season behind him and spearheaded the attack brilliantly in the following season, scoring 16 goals to propel the Foxes to the Premier League as the outright winners of the Championship. 

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Premier League debut and still going strong

Vardy proved his credentials to thrive in the Championship but many would have expected Leicester to sideline him or loan him out to another second-tier outfit upon securing promotion to the Premier League. However, Pearson showed immense faith in Vardy and opted to field him up front as a regular starter in the top-flight.

And Vardy repaid his manager’s faith in him with a man-of-the-match display against Man United, helping the Foxes come back from 3-1 down to an eventual 5-3 victory.

The 32-year-old never looked back and produced a number of eye-catching performances in the top-flight, enough to prove that he definitely has the quality to thrive in the Premier League.

Vardy finished the campaign with 5 goals and 8 assists, as the Foxes finished 14th and managed to beat the drop comfortably in the end.

Vardy’s stocks were very much on the rise at the end of the 2013-14 season but even he wouldn’t have anticipated such a dramatic change of fortunes, for him as well as for Leicester in a span of just a single season. In other words, what followed after that simply defied belief.

Pearson’s successor Claudio Ranieri upset the ridiculous 5000-1 odds and guided the Foxes to an unlikely Premier League title triumph in the 2015-16 season, with Vardy scoring 24 goals in the campaign.

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Leicester’s abrupt emergence and Vardy’s incredible upturn of form saw him bag the 2016 Barclays Premier League Player of the Season.   

Arsene Wenger was ready to bring him to the Emirates but he rebuffed Arsenal’s approach and signed a new long-term deal with Leicester City, instead.

Vardy continued his scoring form in the Premier League in the following season and also found the net twice in the UEFA Champions League, as the Foxes made it all the way to the quarterfinals. 

Vardy hasn’t been able to replicate his feat of scoring 24 goals in the Premier League until now but goals have continued to flow for him at an impressive strike rate, nonetheless.

The 32-year-old has racked up a staggering 80 goals and 29 assists in 176 Premier League appearances, numbers which are quite eye-watering for any footballer playing in such a highly competitive league.

Conclusion

It is difficult to find the proper set of adjectives to describe Vardy’s sensational rise in English football from being a non-league star to a Premier League icon.

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It certainly doesn’t require a rocket scientist to figure out that he has by far been one of the most consistent strikers in the Premier League over the past few years and it would be harsh to take any credit away from him.

Vardy’s hardworking nature, lightning pace, instant acceleration, his ability to play off the shoulder of the last defender and time his run to perfection, and clinical finishing, have troubled even the best of defences in the top-flight.

Still only 32, he definitely has a lot to offer as far as Leicester are concerned, and even if he hangs up his boots right now, the story of his rise is likely to inspire footballers for generations to come.

Vardy’s meteoric rise in English football is like a ray of light at the end of a dark tunnel for all non-league footballers who dream of playing in the Premier League some day.

The Leicester man rose to prominence by his sheer dint of merit and hard work, which should be a lesson for all non-league footballers that opportunities are there if you keep working hard.

Working hard and working smart are completely different things but Vardy has shown the ability to combine both in order to produce the desired results.

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Leicester City

[Image] Predicted 4-1-4-1 Leicester XI to face Newcastle – Maddison out, Vardy in?

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Predicted Leicester City XI to face Newcastle United in the Premier League

Leicester City completely demolished Luton Town 4-0 in the third round of the EFL Cup on Wednesday and the Foxes will be looking to continue their winning run when they play host to a struggling Newcastle United side on Sunday.

Brendan Rodgers’ side finished matchweek 6 placed 3rd in the Premier League standings after a thrilling 2-1 victory over Tottenham and they will be the outright favourites against the Magpies.

Newcastle currently find themselves 17th in the standings and Steve Bruce’s side will need to come away with a positive result to avoid dropping down to the relegation zone. 

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Team News

Leicester will be without the services of star playmaker James Maddison, who is currently on the treatment table after suffering an ankle injury against Man United last week. 

Daniel Amartey (foot) and Matthew James (calf) are long-term absentees for the Foxes. 

Predicted XI 

Formation: 4-1-4-1

Kasper Schmeichel (GK)

The Dane has always been a figure of reliability between the sticks for the Foxes and he is one of the first names on Rodgers’ teamsheet. 

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Ricardo Pereira (RB)

The Portuguese international bagged a goal in Leicester’s 2-1 victory over Spurs last week and he should be fit and ready to start after being rested for the EFL Cup tie. 

Caglar Soyuncu (CB)

The Turk has really made eyeballs turn with his consistently impressive displays at the heart of the defence and he is expected to have a relatively easy outing against a Newcastle side struggling for goals. 

Jonny Evans (CB)

The veteran has risen to the occasion to take over the reins from Harry Maguire and there is no way Rodgers will be looking to rest him on Sunday. 

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Ben Chilwell (LB)

Christian Fuchs started against Luton Town in the EFL Cup but the England international continues to be the undisputed first-choice at left-back. 

Wilfried Ndidi (CDM)

The Nigerian didn’t have a lot to do in the cup fixture and he is expected to have another comfortable outing against the Magpies.

Harvey Barnes (LM)

The jet-heeled academy graduate didn’t play a part in the cup tie but he is expected to return to the starting eleven in the Premier League on Sunday ahead of Albrighton. 

Ayoze Perez (RM)

The Spaniard spearheaded the attack against Luton Town but he is likely to drop down to a wide role on the right against Newcastle to welcome Jamie Vardy back into the eleven. 

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Youri Tielemans (CM)

The Belgian scored in the 4-0 rout of Luton Town on Wednesday and the Foxes will rely heavily on him to deliver the goods in the absence of Maddison. 

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Dennis Praet (CM)

He did a good job in the cup tie and the injury to Maddison is likely to allow him to get an extended run in the starting eleven. 

Jamie Vardy (ST)

Leicester’s talismanic No.9 didn’t play a part in the EFL Cup victory but the Foxes will once again look up to him to deliver the goods on Sunday.

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Bournemouth

3 top-class playmakers Man United should target in the January window including this red-hot Leicester star

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3 No.10s Man United should target in the January window

Man United were amongst the highest-spending teams in the Premier League this summer, with the Red Devils forking out a fortune to bring in the likes of Harry Maguire, Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka as a part of their squad rebuild.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made his intentions very clear during the summer transfer window, that he is looking to build a team for the future with top-quality young talents in a bid to restore the club’s glory days that seem to have disappeared since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. 

Indeed, the fountain of youth currently flowing at the club under the guidance of Solskajer but the fans at Old Trafford will be less than impressed with United’s lacklustre start to the ongoing campaign.

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After a thumping 4-0 defeat of Chelsea on the opening day, the Red Devils have once again come under scrutiny for some pretty ordinary performances, including a shock defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace at home and a lazy 1-1 draw at Southampton. 

Well, there is still plenty of time left in the season for United to hit the ground running in top-gear but going by what we have seen from their performances so far, Solskajer has a lot more work to do even after plugging the holes at the back if the Red Devils are to get back to their old habits of challenging for silverware.

To sum it up in simple words, United need to bring in a new No.10 in January to add a sense of creative spark to their attack, something that the likes of Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira don’t seem capable of doing on a regular basis each and every week. 

Juan Mata, of course, is a class act but given the Spaniard’s advancing years and his difficulty in acclimatising to Solskjaer’s quick attacking style, United should definitely dip into the market for a new central attacking midfielder. Here are 3 realistic No.10 options for the Red Devils in January:-

1. Christian Eriksen

Man United failed to firm up their interest in the Danish stalwart earlier in the summer but the Sun claims that the Red Devils are set to go all out in their pursuit of the 27-year-old in January. 

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Eriksen was poised to leave Spurs this summer amidst plenty of speculation over his future but the influential playmaker ensured that the transfer saga involving him continued for at least another six months by deciding to stay put at his current club. 

The Dane, who is out of contract at Tottenham next summer, would be in the last six months of his current deal by January and United can certainly look at a cut-price deal to nab the playmaker away from their title rivals.   

A tally of 67 goals and 86 assists in 281 appearances for Spurs says it all and at 27, the fans at Old Trafford will be lucky enough to see one of the best playmakers in his prime years if United do go ahead with a swoop in January. 

2. James Maddison 

Yet to be capped by England at the senior international level, James Maddison might not be a stalwart like Eriksen but the Leicester City man has earned himself plenty of plaudits for his meteoric rise in the Premier League over the past twelve months. 

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Maddison’s successful breakthrough season in the Premier League last term prompted plenty of interest from the Premier League’s top-six this summer, with United also in the list of potential suitors (h/t Express) but the youngster ended up staying at Leicester.

The 22-year-old has already shown that there are few better than him in the English top-tier when it comes to creating chances and pulling the strings, be it from a No.10 role behind the striker or in a wide attacking role down the right.

Add to that his work rate, dribbling and passing, and it is easy to see why he would be a perfect fit for Solskjaer’s United.

 3. David Brooks 

Much like Maddison, David Brooks also enjoyed a successful breakthrough season in the Premier League last season at Bournemouth following his move from Sheffield United and turned into a hot property in the summer, with plenty of clubs, including Man United and Spurs (h/t Metro), looking to secure his services.

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The 22-year-old, who impressed with 7 goals and 5 assists in the Premier League last term, is yet to return to action this season following a spell on the sidelines, although the versatile attacking midfielder did find the net for Wales during the recent international break. 

Brooks’ technical abilities on the ball and a nice turn of pace coupled with his energy, stamina, drive, determination, slick passing, ability to create space and get into the box to score goals make him a tailor-made fit for United’s No.10 role. 

To Read More Man United News, Click Here:- Latest Man United News

Given his obvious potential and with plenty of years still remaining on his contract with the Cherries, the Welsh prodigy is unlikely to come on the cheap but that should not prevent United from making a renewed attempt to sign him.

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Leicester City

3 Talking points from Man United 1-0 Leicester City ahead of PL gameweek 6

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3 Talking points from Man United 1-0 Leicester ahead of PL gameweek 6

Man United triumphed 1-0 over Leicester City at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Saturday, as the Red Devils ended the Foxes’ unbeaten run and registered their first victory in the league since the 4-0 hammering of Chelsea on the opening day of the campaign. 

The game, which was regarded as one of the main attractions of Round 5, turned out to be something of an anti-climax in the end, and the overall lack of creativity over the ninety minutes was quite ridiculous considering the quality of players in action. 

There was hardly anything to separate the two teams in what turned out to be a rather dull and boring game of pretty ordinary standards, with Marcus Rashford making all the difference with his goal from the penalty spot early in the first half. 

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Overall, it was a story of how both the teams failed to live up to the hype surrounding the game, with Man United lacking the composure to keep hold of the ball long for long enough to carve out anything meaningful and Leicester just not showing enough creativity to find a way through a stubborn United backline led by Harry Maguire.

Nevertheless, Ole Gunnar Solskajer should be happy with those three valuable points and more importantly, against a side that has been tipped to overtake them in the race for the top-six. Here are 3 talking points from the dull 1-0 encounter:

1. Maguire gets the better of Vardy

This was the first time that Harry Maguire was facing his old club in the Premier League since his move to Man United earlier in the summer and the Englishman was always going to be Solskajer’s best bet in trying to keep an in-form Jamie Vardy at bay. 

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And the towering central defender, who seemed to be fully aware of Vardy’s tricks and strengths in the final third, didn’t allow his former teammate to even get a sniff of the goal on Saturday.

Maguire’s flawless reading of the game and his knowledge of Vardy’s strengths were instrumental in United’s efforts to drag the ultimate opportunist out of the game and though it wasn’t a very creative display from the Red Devils, they certainly deserve plenty of credit for a clean-sheet against one of the most potent attacking units in the division.

2. Soyuncu’s bubble finally bursts 

Caglar Soyuncu, who has taken over the reins from Maguire at the heart of Leicester’s defence, was showered with praises for his performances in the first four league games heading into the international break but the youngster turned into a villain at Old Trafford this weekend.

Manchester United 1-0 Leicester City

Soyuncu’s needless clip on Marcus Rashford’s heels inside the box early in the first half allowed United to open the scoring from the penalty spot and that, ultimately, would go on to be the decisive moment of the game.

Indeed, he has done a fair job at the back but his sudden rush of blood on Saturday, which eventually cost the Foxes the game, would have reminded Rodgers that the Turk is still quite young and relatively inexperienced at the Premier League level. 

3. Scott McTominay the standout performer for Man United

On a day where both the teams lacked creativity and finesse in the middle of the park, Scott McTominay put in arguably his best performance of the season so far and repaid Solskjaer’s faith in his abilities. 

Playing alongside Nemanja Matic as a part of a double pivot in the midfield, the Scottish international completely bossed the midfield with his tireless running up and down the pitch, while his physical presence put off the likes of Hamza Choudhury and Youri Tielemans. 

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McTominay broke down the play really well with his tackles and interceptions, carried the ball forward with intent and was always at the right place and at the right time to safeguard United from Leicester’s forays. 

The 22-year-old won 9 out of 16 duels on the ground, 3 out of 3 duels in the air, completed 2 out of his 2 attempted tackles and chipped in with 2 interceptions and 3 clearances.  

Apart from that, he was instrumental in circulating possession in the midfield and switching the play, with the youngster registering 60 touches on the ball and completing 31 passes (accuracy rate of 79.5), including 6 successful long balls. 

McTominay has shown signs of maturing into a powerful defensive midfielder this term and Man United have every reason to be pleased with his rapid development. 

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