Jamie Vardy called up for England: The Leicester striker's journey from Stocksbridge Park Steels to international football

Vardy has taken an unconventional route to the top level

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The Independent Football

He may not have taken the conventional route to international football, but few have worked so hard to earn an England place as Leicester City's Jamie Vardy.

The tireless forward has drawn plaudits in his first season in the top flight with a string of eye-catching performances in the Foxes' dramatic late push for survival, netting crucial winning goals against Burnley and West Brom.

Vardy's rise to the Premier League has been nothing short of extraordinary. He made his senior debut in 2007 for Stocksbridge Park Steels in the Northern Premier League League Division One, after being released at the age of 15 by Sheffield Wednesday.

After a prolific spell with the Steels, which alerted a string of Football League clubs to his potential, Vardy made the step up to Halifax Town, firing the club to promotion to the Conference North in 2010/11. He then spent a solitary season in the Conference Premier with Fleetwood, netting an impressive 31 goals in 36 games.

His consistent scoring led to Vardy drawing the highest transfer fee ever for a non-league player when Leicester gambled on parting with £1m for his services in the summer of 2012.

Understandably, he took his time to adjust to the drastic leap from Conference to Championship, netting just four times in his first season in the division. However, last season he scored 16 league goals as Nigel Pearson's side earned promotion.

He may only have scored four times in his first season at Premier League level, but goals are only a part of Vardy's game - his hold-up play has impressed, he brings other players into the game and is constantly harrying defenders. And his rags-to-riches story is one that should give hope to all non-league footballers.