Euro 2016: Red Bull and nicotine over pumping iron for goal hero Jamie Vardy

Jamie Vardy celebrates his equaliser for England against Wales
Jamie Vardy celebrates his equaliser for England against Wales
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As a late bloomer in international football Sheffield’s Jamie Vardy knows how to get the best out of himself, even if that means avoiding the gym and perking up with energy drinks.

Having been an unused substitute in England’s Euro 2016 opener against Russia, the Leicester striker made his mark on the competition in style against Wales.

Coming on at 1-0 down, he drew England level with just his third touch in tournament football then played a key part in setting up Daniel Sturridge’s stoppage-time winner.

That was just the latest chapter in Vardy’s remarkable rise, having gone from non-league to Champions League in five whirlwind years.

The 29-year-old has surely done enough to make Roy Hodgson’s starting XI against Slovakia on Monday, but he retains a certain outsider quality befitting of a character whose formative years were spent outside the top-tier academy set-up.

He was pictured last week clutching a can of Red Bull and a tin of nicotine pouches before training, and happily admits he has no interest pumping iron.

“If I go in the gym it will slow me down,” he said after his decisive cameo in Lens.

“I don’t go in for weights or anything like that. People have tried (to persuade him) and not succeeded.

“Each and every person is different and this is my way.

“I’m sure if someone else tried doing what I do then it probably wouldn’t work for them.”

Asked to recall the last time he lifted a weight, Vardy grinned and said: “Probably that can of Red Bull the other day.”

His choice of pick-me-up might have raised some eyebrows but such mild stimulants are not prohibited and, in any case, not a staple of his daily routine.

“They’ve been checked with the medical team and there’s nothing wrong with them,” Vardy explained.

“I wouldn’t call it a diet, the Red Bull was just to wake me up in the morning.

“It’s not a regular thing whereby I have one every morning. It’s just something I felt I needed that day.”

Vardy’s unconventional ways have not gone unnoticed by his team-mates, but neither has his ability to turn a game and unnerve opponents.

Adam Lallana, speaking about his Three Lions team-mate, said: “I think everyone is unique in different ways.

“Everyone has their little traits they do, in the gym or what they do off the pitch or before a game - but Vards is Vards, he is a defender’s nightmare.

“He is always in the box and he scored a very important goal for us against Wales.”

That goal, and his general pestering of a tiring Welsh defence, will not have escaped the attention of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

The Frenchman attempted to wrap up a surprise deal for Vardy just prior the tournament but is now waiting for his involvement to end before discussions continue.

And despite having a once-in-a-career move on the table, Vardy’s focus is not wavering from the task at hand.

“It’s been easy (to shut that out),” he said.

“I’m here to concentrate and focus on England and that’s all I’m going to be doing and now we’ll just get back on that training field and focus on the next match.”