Monday 5 December 2016

Jamie Vardy: 'My life now is carnage... I don't leave my house'

John Percy

Published 01/08/2016 | 15:19

Leicester hitman Jamie Vardy
Leicester hitman Jamie Vardy

Life has changed so dramatically for Jamie Vardy over the last 12 months that he is now under a self-imposed curfew.

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Vardy was one of the star characters in the fairytale that captured the imagination of the world last season, breaking records and scoring 24 goals to help propel 5,000-1 long-shots Leicester to the Premier League title.

His hero status with Leicester fans enhanced after rejecting a £22million move to Arsenal, he has also signed a new £100,000 a week contract, featured in England’s Euro 2016 debacle and married his girlfriend Becky, who is pregnant with their second child.

Vardy is now rubbing shoulders with the likes of legendary crooner Engelbert Humperdinck, who turned up at Leicester’s Los Angeles training base last week to pose with the league trophy.

So does life feel different as a champion? “It is carnage. I basically can’t go out at the minute and I don’t leave my house,” he says, closing his eyes and laughing.

“I have put myself on a curfew but without the tag on my ankle [he was made to wear an electronic tag after being charged with assault in 2007].

“It was alright-ish before but now it doesn’t matter where you go. It changed after breaking the record, when I scored 11 league goals in a row.

“Now I prefer to stay at home and spend more time with the kids and on my computer, time with my wife. I’m still pinching myself all the time at how the last few years have gone.”

Vardy’s inspirational story, from the ravaged battlegrounds of non-league to becoming an established England international, will be told in a Hollywood film next year, while an autobiography will also be released in October.

Talks were held over the film in Los Angeles last week, yet the 29-year-old insists the main focus is on Leicester producing an outstanding sequel to last season. 

Leicester will face Manchester United in the Community Shield this weekend, with Vardy confident of playing after a wrist operation, before the defence of their title begins at Hull City on August 13.

“I feel the club is still going up. It’s like one of those fairground rides, the volcano ones where you sit in a chair and just go ‘whoosh’! That’s what the owners want as well, and so does the boss,” he says, sitting in a conference room at Leicester’s hotel in Santa Monica.

“There is forward momentum with the club and unfinished business in terms of what we can achieve.

“We weren’t supposed to win the league. Some say it was lucky that we won but I don’t think you can be lucky over 38 games. To lose just four games in 47 games is not bad going.

“We’re not supposed to win anything. We’re only little Leicester, as everyone says. People still say it now. No-one has given us a chance again so we might as well enjoy it because that is what gets us the performances.”

Though Vardy has committed his future to the club for the next four years, Leicester’s preparations for the season have suffered some collateral damage.

N’Golo Kante has departed after just one season with a £30million move to Chelsea while transfer chief Steve Walsh, who helped discover the likes of Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, could not turn down the director of football role at Everton.

But last season’s tale of the unexpected should serve as a warning to the doubters who are predicting the bubble will burst.

The record £18million signing of Ahmed Musa is one that promises to excite supporters while there is already optimism that Nampalys Mendy can pull off the sizeable task of replacing Kante.

Leicester are also confident of persuading Mahrez, the PFA Player of the Year, to stay for at least another season.

“We’d obviously love Riyad to stay,” says Vardy. “There is nothing personally I can do, it is down to the club, the player himself and any interested parties. On that front there is nothing I can do, but hopefully me signing my contract is a way of showing that clubs can be rejected.”

Vardy is already counting down the days until August 25th, when the draw is made for the Champions League. This will be Leicester’s first experience of the competition and further proof of the upward trajectory in Vardy’s career. It was only a little over four years ago that he completed his £1million move to Leicester from Fleetwood Town.

“I always used to watch the Champions League, no matter who was playing, but this season I’ll miss it because we’re in it,” he says.

“My best memory of the competition will be when Manchester United won the treble [in the 1998-99 season]. I was on a school trip to the Lake District and they managed to get a television in the canteen so we could watch it.

“Now I can’t wait to hear that music at the King Power Stadium for the first time.”

You get the feeling there is more to come from the Vardy story.

Telegraph.co.uk

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