Last season saw a much talked about player finally realise his potential: Jamie Vardy.
Not only did the Sheffield born striker lift the Premier League trophy with Leicester City; he also made his England debut and represented his country at Euro 2016, made the PFA Team of the Year, won the Barclays Premier League Player of the Season and met with film makers to discuss a biopic of his life – but why Vardy?
As most of you will know, Jamie Vardy is a product of England’s non-league football system and didn’t make his professional debut until he was 24 years old – ancient in modern football terms – and he scored 31 goals in 26 appearances for Fleetwood Town, then of the Conference Premier.
His lethal scoring record attracted the attention of Championship side Leicester City and Nigel Pearson insisted the club raid Fleetwood for their talisman.
Scroll forward five years and Vardy is now the household name we’ve all become accustomed to but is he a unique example or simply the first of the breed?
Many people have said that Wayne Rooney is the last English footballer we’ll ever see who grew up playing football on the streets thanks to the enormous reliance on academies to scout and develop young talent for professional clubs – thankfully there is another way and Jamie Vardy is the example that proves the system can work.