Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy has been called up to the national team, marking an incredible story of his rise through the football league.
Roy Hodgson has included Vardy in his squad, alongside Queens Park Rangers striker Charlie Austin and Burnley goalkeeper Tom Heaton, who are also hoping for their first England caps. Hodgson saw Vardy at Fleetwood Town and claimed players like him are good for coaches, and has now recognised the striker’s integral role in Leicester’s relegation survival.
Vardy’s story is so impressive because it is easy to forget he was playing non-league football just three years ago. He began his senior career at Stocksbridge Park Steels before moving to FC Halifax Town in 2010.
Leicester began to show interest in Vardy during his time at Fleetwood Town where he recorded an excellent 34 goals in 38 appearances. This led to the Foxes completing the signing of Vardy for a reported fee of £1 million in the summer of 2012.
His first season with Leicester was difficult, finding himself on the end of some criticism from fans for his lack of form. The transformation witnessed in his second season with Leicester however was staggering, as he returned revitalised, bringing pace and energy to the team in what turned out to be the season where Leicester were crowned as champions with promotion to the Premier League.
Vardy scored 16 league goals last season, something which he has not been able to replicate in the top flight where injury has been a part of his season. With only four goals to his name, a lot of critics will say he doesn’t deserve the call up to the England squad, but there is great deal more to Vardy’s game than just goals.
The energy and determination he brings to a team is enough to worry even the best of defenders, and his closing down of the ball is an indication of how hard he works for his team-mates. Not to mention he has eight assists in the top flight this season, the same amount as the player of the year Eden Hazard, as well as Alexis Sanchez and Sergio Aguero. This is also one more than both David Silva and Raheem Sterling, so it should come as no surprise that Vardy has been included in the national squad.
Considering that Vardy has looked like a quality player in a team that was bottom of the league for roughly five months, and he was one of the main contributors to Leicester’s great escape, he is certainly beginning to prove why he deserved the call-up. The last game of the season against Queens Park Rangers will also give him a chance to justify why Hodgson made the right decision in selecting him.
Vardy has put a number of strong performances in for the Foxes this season, including the home win to Manchester United and the away wins at West Brom and Burnley to name just a few.
The 5-3 win against Manchester United has to be one of Vardy’s greatest performances in a Leicester City shirt, as he was terrorising the United defence from start to finish. He scored Leicester’s fourth goal of the game with an excellent run and finish, in addition to winning two penalties for the Foxes during the match. The goals he scored against West Brom and Burnley had a large amount of significance for different reasons, as they both contributed to wins which sparked an incredible fightback to escape relegation against all odds.
The fact that Roy Hodgson has recognised the hard work and effort Jamie Vardy has put into his club football is a promising outlook on the future of English football as a whole. It is a sign that hard work does pay off and that a player’s efforts can be rewarded regardless of the club they play for.
This is a huge confidence boost for young and lower league footballers across the country after seeing the rise of Jamie Vardy and Charlie Austin from non-league to international football within a matter of years.
As for Vardy, he can now enjoy the final game of the season against Queens Park Rangers after celebrating Leicester’s Premier League survival and now his England call-up. Should he feature in the friendly against the Republic of Ireland, or the European Qualifier against Slovenia, he will be given a great chance to impress Roy Hodgson and stamp his name on the international stage.
If he can continue his form in the next season of the Premier League and make an impression on a national level, Vardy can give Hodgson an interesting decision to make ahead of the squad selection for the European Championships in 2016.