Jamie Vardy on chasing European soccer, ‘brilliant’ Brendan Rodgers, and where his goal celebrations come from
It’s been a very busy season for Leicester City, filled with highs and lows, and as the Foxes look ahead to a semifinal matchup against Southampton in the F.A Cup this Sunday, Jamie Vardy offers his thoughts on what it’s like to play in such a hectic schedule.
“Personally, I prefer it,” says the 34-year-old forward, speaking to CBS Sports and ¡Qué Golazo! “You’ve not got enough times in between the games to think about what happened, come off a loss, you’ve now got a full week to be thinking about the game coming up in a couple of days. To rectify things or keep the momentum going.”
It’s a bit of both for Jamie Vardy and Leicester City. It’s true, his goal scoring form is going through a rough spell (he’s scored only one goal in his last 18 matches in all competitions and not scored in last 10 games) and Leicester City are coming off a 3-2 loss against West Ham, but this team is looking at the big picture and believe that momentum is like the tide of the ocean. It can change at any moment. Fans must also remember that it hasn’t been too long since his hernia surgery, which he went through back in January, after battling the problem for months.
Craving even more coverage of the world’s game? Listen below and follow ¡Qué Golazo! A Daily CBS Soccer Podcast where we take you beyond the pitch and around the globe for commentary, previews, recaps and more.
But, it’s important to remember that Brendan Rodgers’s side are having a very good season, sitting in third place in the league and one game away from the F.A. Cup final, so that tide can turn to Jamie’s favor, maybe as soon as this weekend.
“We just have to make sure we prepare right and come out victorious [this weekend],” says Vardy.
Cup aside, the league run must continue and Vardy knows a return to the Champions League would be fantastic for the club. A chance at playing against the elite is always a major objective. “It would be really special [to qualify] for the club and also show that we’re progressing how we want to, making sure that season by season we’re progressing and making sure that European football is back at the King Power again,” says Vardy. “It shows that we’re up there fighting again so it would be really special but it’s a long way to the end of the season and a lot of points to play for so we just see it game by game.”
Game by game is exactly how they saw it in 2015-2016 when Leicester City reached one of the most incredible achievements in sports history and won the Premier League, a season that started with them 5000/1 to win it all. Odds that were so improbable, there was a better chance of seeing Elvis Presley alive. It was a squad that was so far off the riches of Manchester City, and the fact that they ended 14th the previous season, no one saw it coming.
Vardy – who cost Leicester one million pounds, when he was bought from Fleetwood Town in 2012 – scored 24 goals and won the Golden Boot. It was an incredible moment for the team and the city.
“It was quite a strange time,” reflects Vardy. “Even though we were up there fighting and got to the top of the table, there was really no pressure on us, at all, cause…we weren’t supposed to be there. We were supposed to be the team that said at the start of the season was gonna get relegated, we’d be in a relegation battle, so we were just taking each game as it comes, getting the win, move on to the next one and like I said, with no pressure on you, when you’re enjoying your football, special things can happen. It turned out that way, won the league and I think the pictures from the bus tour said it all, especially for the city.”
But that was then and this is now and even though those memories remain with then-manager Claudio Ranieri, Vardy continues to learn so much from Brendan Rodgers.
“He’s been absolutely brilliant,” says Vardy. “He’s come in, with a plan and a philosophy that he wanted and everyone straight away bought into it. Made little tweaks along the way with certain individuals including myself. Man management skills are…absolutely brilliant. That’s the things you want – I’m 34 now, but there’s still things I can learn and the gaffer is helping me with stuff like that. By doing that, even if it changes you and makes you better by one percent, if he does that with the whole squad, then that’s a really big shift.”
One thing Vardy’s goal dry spell has deprived the world of his his knack for goal celebrations. Vardy loves to have fun after scoring. From his eagle celebration to slide tackling the corner flag in the 90th minute last December against Sheffield United, there are no shortages to these moments. How did he come up with the guitar-playing one? Where he picks up the flag and starts to play it like a guitar as if he was a member of the Arctic Monkeys.
“If I’m being honest, when it comes to celebrations, it’s just what comes to my mind.,” says Vardy. “I was going to slide tackle it again but the last time I did that I snapped the corner flag so the next best option was to pick it up and strum it like a guitar. There it was.”
However he celebrates, Vardy’s most important moment is his journey. From non-league football to Premier League champion, it’s really a story made for Hollywood. But Vardy, again, doesn’t think about it too much. His focus is on the present.
“It’s not really something I think about that much. I will probably look back when my career eventually finishes,” he says. “It will definitely be something I look at when football is done.”
Make sure to catch the full Vardy interview on the ¡Qué Golazo! Youtube page.