Jamie Vardy’s rise to prominence is the stuff of dreams, and the Leicester man has revealed to L’Equipe that he gave up on football after he was told he would not be able to fulfil his lifelong ambition to be a professional footballer for his boyhood club.
“It was 2002 when I was fired from the Sheffield Wednesday Academy at the age of fifteen. At a meeting at the end of the season with my coaches, I was told that I was not kept because I was too small… it was terrible,” Vardy recalls.
“From there, I stopped playing football for almost a year. At the weekend, I did everything and anything but not football. I said to myself: ‘There’s no point in continuing, I’m not made for that.”
Vardy then joined local side Stockbridge Park Steels and was later picked up by Halifax Town in the division below the Conference North. He quickly ascended to the Premier League in the space of four years with Leicester via Fleetwood, and the rest is history.
At 32, many would have thought Vardy may be slowing down, with pace a crucial aspect of his game, but the man himself is confident in his ability to continue at the top for many more years.
“I never see beyond the horizon of the next match… And if I’m still performing well with my club at 32 years old, it is precisely thanks to this state of mind.
“And physically I do not feel used at all; I still have in my legs to play several seasons in the Premier League.”
The Englishman, as many players do to prolong their club career, retired from international duty after being sparingly used at the 2018 World Cup. However, England boss Gareth Southgate has opened the door to Vardy, who scored 18 in 33 last season, and a return to the Three Lions squad.
“It’s obvious how well he’s [Vardy] still playing, and the discussion we had at the time with him was always: ‘Look, neither of us close the door.’”
Vardy also reflected on his time at Leicester, including N’Golo Kante’s bizarre suggestion that he might run to training.
“What a pleasure it was to play alongside N’Golo! He is an adorable guy alongside being a fantastic footballer,” Vardy claims.
“One day he said to us that he was seriously considering running to the training centre each day, which came from the fact that he would always add a little running session for himself. In the moment, we were all a bit taken aback and convinced him not to.”
He also professed that Claude Puel’s training regime was perhaps unsuited to the Premier League.
“We got on well, but I had the impression that the intensity in training sessions was too low, to the point that it was difficult for us to be quick and aggressive in matches,” Vardy remembers.
“We tried to give our best, but it wasn’t working, it was frustrating.”
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