There is no doubting Jamie Vardy deserves to be where he is, at least for footballing reasons. The Leicester City striker has been a revelation this season after helping Leicester to the top of the Premier League. His enduring feature is a rags to riches back story, but what many have glossed over is a dark past. For all his merits on the pitch, should we be celebrating a man, who if he was in any other profession, people may not be so forthcoming with praise?
The Legend of Jamie Vardy
Any discussion on Vardy should not come without historical context. The striker has had an extraordinary rise from non-league to the Premier League, and it has even been hinted that it will be turned into a Hollywood film. There is no argument with the magnitude of his success.
Vardy was rejected at a young age by his boyhood team Sheffield Wednesday for being too small. One month later, Vardy had a 20cm growth spurt, but had become disillusioned with becoming a footballer. His friends managed to convince him to play for a small team, Stockbridge Park Steels FC in non-league and he began building his future on the bumpy pitches of the Northern Premier League Division One. His job at the time was in a metal factory, creating carbon fibre splints for people with drop foot. The work was tough and was damaging his back as well as his football fitness. A move to Halifax for £15,000 and then to Fleetwood Town caught the eye of bigger sides and his impressive performances meant Leicester were willing to pay the £1m, the ex-factory worker had become worth.
His Leicester career did not start as gloriously as it has become, he struggled, especially in the first Premier League season, with just 6 goals. This all changed this season with an incredible run of scoring 11 games in a row. This broke a record held by Ruud Van Nistelrooy of Manchester United. One of the biggest players in the history of the Premier League had been beaten by a former metal worker from Yorkshire. He has 16 so far this season and is helping Leicester lead the standings, with many mentioning their chances of winning the league overall.
The Red Mist Descends
This incredible rags to riches tale is not without its controversies though. Vardy appears to have his own demons, and it has very nearly jeopardised his fairy-tale career. While in Stockbridge Vardy was on a night out with a friend when he was antagonised by passers-by. Vardy’s reaction was violent and he was charged with assault. The consequence of his actions was a curfew of 6.00pm and an electronic tag on his foot. For a footballer who regularly plays after 6.00pm this was a major disruption on both accounts. Vardy incredibly played with the tag on his foot, and on numerous occasions was substituted early so he could get into his parent’s car and make it home by his curfew time. Though never denying any wrong doing, Vardy claims he was simply defending a friend.
More recently the Sheffield man caused controversy at Leicester after another night out turned sour. While playing poker at a casino with fellow players Ritchie De Laet and David Nugent, Vardy accused someone of looking at his cards. Noticing the man’s East Asian origin, he shocked everyone there by using a derogatory term to describe the man. Vardy was forgiven by his club and was not charged with any issue, but a video of the event was seen by many.
Vardy’s hot head has caused him to flip out and it is not just off the pitch. During a game for Fleetwood Town, Vardy saw red for an horrific tackle on Kidderminster player which saw a brawl break out and Harriers player Steve Guinan sent off for throwing a punch.
It seems Vardy’s story has adored him to many fans, but it has not happened without upsetting a few people. While his career can be shown as a great role model for struggling footballers everywhere, his behaviour off the pitch should not. This makes Vardy such a polarizing figure in my opinion. Yes, his career should be admired, but let’s not forget that to become a celebrated player you need to be inspirational off the pitch, as well as score goals on it. Even if it was 11 in a row.
Joshua Mason – Sports team