Jamie Vardy has a memorable 2016 - by George Smith
Four years ago he was playing non-league football on the Fylde Coast for Fleetwood Town; now he's a Premier League champion.
It’s fair to say Jamie Vardy has had a memorable rise in such a short space of time.
In May this year, the Sheffield-born striker played a key part in one of football’s greatest ever stories as he helped Leicester City defy their 5000-1 odds of lifting the Premier League title.
Along with that sheer level of success at club level, the 29-year- old has enjoyed a fruitful year on the international stage with England, scoring his first five goals for the Three Lions, including one at EURO 2016 against Wales.
So, how can a boy, who was released from Sheffield Wednesday’s youth ranks as a youngster, now be one of English football’s most iconic stars?
The answer is simple in Vardy’s case - hard work. After joining current club Leicester for £1m from Fleetwood in the summer of 2012, he struggled to hold down a starting berth in the side.
But the following season, which saw the Foxes win promotion to the top flight by winning the Championship, the pacey frontman netted 16 goals.
In 2014/15, Vardy managed just five goals as the Midlands club avoided an immediate return to the second tier by the skin of their teeth, by staging an incredible late season fightback.
But last season, Vardy rose to the top. He scored week-in- week-out as Leicester City, under the guidance of Claudio Ranieiri, shocked the world. In total, he fired home 24 Premier League goals to bag the Foxes their first ever English title success. Now the former Halifax man is playing in the Champions League. Yes, the Champions League.
Not bad for a lad from Sheffield who was, just nine years ago, playing on the outskirts of the city with Stocksbridge Park Steels.