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Jamie Vardy's rise reads like an old-fashioned comic book

November 22, 2015 19:00 IST

Jamie Vardy celebrates scoring the first goal

IMAGE: Jamie Vardy celebrates scoring the first goal for Leicester City to equal the record for scoring in consecutive Premier League games. Photograph: Craig Brough Livepic/Action Images via Reuters

Jamie Vardy's rise from the wilderness of non-League football to playing for England, scoring in 10 consecutive Premier League matches and leading Leicester City to the top of the table reads like a story from an outdated comic book.

These days, potential top-class players are spotted at the age of eight or nine by highly-trained academy scouts and nurtured through their formative years by nutritionists, sport scientists, and finely-tuned by development trainers and coaches.

They do not normally reach the top after being convicted of assault, placed under police curfew with an electronic tag to monitor their movements and by playing for minor league clubs like Stocksbridge Park Steels, Halifax and Fleetwood Town.

That has been Vardy's unlikely climb to the top and he is now just one match away from equalling a scoring record set in the 1950s.

That was an era when these kind of rags-to-riches stories fuelled the imagination of schoolboys whose heroes were players like Stanley Matthews, Nat Lofthouse, Tom Finney and Stan Mortensen.

Leicester's Jamie Vardy poses with the October Barclays Player of the Month trophy

IMAGE: Leicester's Jamie Vardy poses with the October Barclays Player of the Month trophy. Photograph: Alex Morton Livepic/Action Images via Reuters

On Saturday, Vardy, 28, equalled Ruud van Nistelrooy's Premier League record of scoring in 10 successive games.

He latched on to a pass from Leonardo Ulloa, cut inside Newcastle United's Moussa Sissoko and fired in a low shot that beat goalkeeper Rob Elliot to set Leicester on their way to a 3-0 win.

His scoring run began against Bournemouth on Aug. 29 and if he finds the net against Manchester United next Saturday he will equal Mortensen's top flight record of scoring in 11 successive matches, which he set playing for Blackpool in 1950-51.

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri was naturally effusive in his praise.

"It is fantastic for Jamie Vardy. It is good for him, it is good for everybody, when a team has a striker, who is scoring goals, it gives you a lot of confidence.

"You always believe something can happen when he has the ball. He is like a great champion. He came from non-League and it was very difficult for him, but now he is very confident."

Leicester City's Jamie Vardy celebrates after the game

IMAGE: Leicester City's Jamie Vardy celebrates after the game. Photograph: Craig Brough Livepic/Action Images via Reuters

Ranieri has managed some outstanding players in his long career and said: "I also had Gabriel Batistuta at Fiorentina and I remember he scored in 11 consecutive matches and I hope Jamie can achieve this too."

Vardy only played on Saturday after passing a late fitness test on an injured hip.

"The physios have been brilliant and got me through it," he said, adding Leicester's never-say-die attitude was key to their recent success.

It was obviously key to his own personal rise as well.

Vardy clearly believes in himself too, but has obviously not forgotten where he has come from.

Asked if he was still pinching himself, he replied: "Yeah, every day."

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