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.
Non-League football is incredibly competitive and there is a lot of talent on show every weekend so it’s no wonder Premier League clubs have started sending scouts to watch these games intently in the hope of unearthing another gem.
One player that has successfully graduated through the non-league setup is Grimsby Town’s Omar Bogle.
Whilst in the National League, the Mariners sent scouts to watch Bogle, then with Solihull Moors.
Grimsby entered a bidding frenzy to secure their man and in his time with the Mariners the 24 year old is returning a goal roughly every two games for his current club – the system is working and working well.
Perhaps the dream can’t be achieved for all of the players in the Non-League setup but with Bogle setting League Two alight and Jamie Vardy currently representing the Premier League champions in the UEFA Champions’ League and his country; you have to believe it’s possible we’ll see more and more stars emerging from the Non-League setup.
Vardy himself missed out on the Golden Boot last season thanks to Harry Kane pipping him to the post by a single goal but the pacey striker won’t be deterred from trying equally as hard to win the coveted award this time around.
He’ll need to get a move on, however, as we’re already heading towards February and Vardy has only scored five goals in the league at this stage. Some bookmakers still believe in the Englishman and offer some great odds and sign up offers new customers.
According to Betway reviews, punters can benefit from bonuses and sign up offers when signing up and the England international can be backed at as much as 150/1 to secure the Golden Boot come the end of the season with Kane and Ibrahimovic favoured at 11/4 across all betting sites, including Betway.
Golden Boot or not, Jamie Vardy has set a precedent for modern football that cannot be ignored. Academies produce young talent for clubs around the world but only England’s Non-League system has produced a player of Vardy’s quality, experience and tenacity.