Saturday 17 August 2019

Pain can't stop Vardy on road to record

Leicester City1 Man Utd 1

John Percy

As Jamie Vardy reflected on his record-breaking feat, standing with an ice pack on a badly bruised foot, it was tempting to wonder what Jurgen Klopp would have made of it all.

Vardy broke Ruud van Nistelrooy's record by scoring in his 11th consecutive Premier League game, against Manchester United on Saturday, and that sequence becomes even more impressive when you consider all the injuries through which he has played.

Over the past three months he has endured hip, foot and groin problems, while he has also played with a protective cast after breaking two bones in his wrist, but the pain was never going to prevent him from etching his name into history.

It is a steely mindset that would doubtless earn the admiration of Liverpool manager Klopp, who has warned Daniel Sturridge he must appreciate the difference between "serious pain and only pain".

Sturridge represents a threat to Vardy's hopes of appearing at Euro 2016 with England if he can sustain a run of regular games, but has been plagued with injuries and his appearance record is poor.

Vardy, though, has gritted his teeth and relied on adrenalin to score 13 goals in 11 league games, and there was never any doubt he was going to miss against David De Gea on Saturday.

Manchester United's Daley Blind and Leicester City's Jamie Vardy battle for the bal
Manchester United's Daley Blind and Leicester City's Jamie Vardy battle for the bal
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney and Leicester's Robert Huth in action as Kasper Schmeichel looks on
Manchester United's Memphis Depay misses from close range during the Barclays Premier League match against Leicester City
Manchester United's Anthony Martial and Leicester City's Ngolo Kante challenge for possession at the King Power Stadium

"I'm getting an injury every week but I never want to not play, it's as simple as that. I want to play as many games as I can and help the team out in as good a way as I can," he said.

"I know I'm going to get injured at times. It's the way I play and, if I have to play through it sometimes, that's what I'll do. Now I've got the record I want to keep the run going.


"I want to score as many goals as I can but first and foremost is Leicester City and if anyone else scores to get us three points then I'll be happy.

"It's a record which has stood for quite some time. Every single one of the United players congratulated me at the end, so that's credit to them. That's class, they don't have to do it, it just shows you the respect footballers have got."

Vardy (28) was also given a signed shirt by the squad to mark the achievement and is now focusing on Jimmy Dunne's record, with the Dubliner scoring in 12 consecutive games for Sheffield United in 1931-32.

His magical moment on Saturday came nearly four years to the day since he scored the equaliser for Fleetwood Town in a 1-1 draw at Gateshead in front of 768 people.

"I was injured in that game too!" he said.

Any lingering doubts about the calibre of opposition he has faced during the 11 games were surely dispelled on Saturday as he capitalised on his one chance of the evening, running on to Christian Fuchs' sublime pass to beat De Gea. In truth, the record killed the game although much of that could also be down to United's joyless, functional approach.

United deserved a point, after Bastian Schweinsteiger's first Premier League goal on the stroke of half-time, but there were still many issues to debate, namely the alarming decline of Wayne Rooney.

While Vardy was a pest and a constant whirlwind of motion, Rooney was subdued, ineffective and there was even a moment when he resorted to theatrics in the hope of winning a penalty.

United's defence, and not entertainment, will be the foundation of their title bid and Chris Smalling produced another firm reminder to Roy Hodgson that he is one of the first names on the England team sheet.

Smalling can appreciate the remarkable rise of Vardy more than anyone else who played on Saturday, after making his own climb from non-league to the top level. He was playing with Maidstone United in 2008 and insists there are more gems to be found on the gnarled battlefields of the lower leagues.

"Clubs should definitely look at non-league for players, especially when you think of how much money people are costing to bring in to the club," he said.

"It's a no-brainer to give those ones a chance and with Jamie's success I think you will see them have more of a wider look in the non-league region.

"Coming from this background makes you more grounded. I think you can have a bad game and then look back at how far you have come and the fact that you're here.

"It's one job getting here but it's 10 times harder making sure you stay here because there is so much competition. Jamie is doing great things this season and everybody is talking about him."

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