Friday 30 September 2016

Jamie Vardy has no problem keeping his focus on the football

Published 18/06/2016 | 16:36

Jamie Vardy scored England's equaliser against Wales
Jamie Vardy scored England's equaliser against Wales

Despite having a once-in-a-career transfer on the table, a honeymoon to plan and a film about his life in the works, Jamie Vardy is remaining admirably single-minded about his role in England's Euro 2016 campaign.

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Vardy might be forgiven for having a clouded mind considering the recent developments in his life - both professional and personal.

Since becoming a Premier League title winner with arch underdogs Leicester in May, Vardy has been the subject of an approach from Arsenal, married partner Rebekah in a brief break from training and scored his biggest goal in an England shirt in a fiery derby against Wales.

Deals for an autobiography, charting his rise from part-time non-league football to the world stage, and a Hollywood screenplay have also been penned but, while the circus continues to swirl, the 29-year-old is operating with tunnel vision.

The only thing that matters for Vardy now is working hard to catch Roy Hodgson's eye at England's Chantilly base and producing more moments like his crucial equaliser in Lens.

"As soon as you step over that line all you concentrate on is football," he said ahead of Monday's final Group B clash against Slovakia.

"When I come off that pitch, I am still straight back into the England camp. It's easy. That's all there is to think about.

"If you let things start distracting you, then you're not going to be able to do that, which will then jeopardise the team as well. So everything gets completely blanked out except for England, England, England.

"There is only one thing you want to do and that is to play football to the best of your ability.

"The only thing is football. Nothing's going to change that."

Vardy's one-track mind does not stop his other interests developing behind the scenes, though.

His book, 'Jamie Vardy: My Story', will hit the shelves before the year is out and his tale should soon be told on the silver screen too after producer Adrian Butchart backed the project.

"It's happening. It's out in 2017, from what I've been told," Vardy said of the movie. I think they're just getting all the actors sorted.

"I can't tell you much more about the film. You'll have to go and watch it."

As for his literary debut, he added: "I wasn't thinking about doing one, to be honest with you, then I had a chat with my agent and we thought it was a good time.

"A lot of people don't know exactly what I've had to go through to get to this position. So it'll be good for everyone to have it out there, from my own view.

"A lot of the youngsters coming up now probably don't know I've had to come up the way I have, they just probably see it that because I'm playing at the level I am that's where I've always been.

"I think when you look and see the hard work it could make a lot of other players work a lot harder.

"It's no secret where I've come from with my football and I'll always remember. To be scoring in a European Championship for your country is unbelievable but I'll always pinch myself to make sure I stay grounded."

Vardy has steadfastly refused to engage on the subject of Arsenal since he arrived in France, but is expected to make his decision quickly after England's tournament ends.

Should he leave the Foxes, who broke the non-league transfer record to take him from Fleetwood in 2012, it would be with the heaviest of hearts.

Not only has he established a formidable rapport with players and fans, he has also found a manager in Claudio Ranieri who understands him completely.

"I think I have been given a bit more freedom with Claudio because all he's bothered about is attacking, which is great," smiled Vardy. "He just wants us to enjoy ourselves.

"He messaged me a few days ago and just said 'congratulations champ'."

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