It’s nothing unusual for a father of a Premier League striker to be watching on from the stands.
But Richard Gill, a 52-year-old labourer from Sheffield, had no idea until last week that his son was record-breaking goal machine, Jamie Vardy.
Richard watched as Vardy’s club Leicester City ran out 3-0 winners against Swansea last weekend to go clear at the top of the Premier League.
It’s the first time Richard has seen the Sheffield-born striker play after walking out on his mother when Jamie was still in nappies.
A national newspaper contacted Mr Gill and revealed that his son, who he had not seen for more than 25 years, was the Premier League’s top goal-scorer.
He said: “Until last week, I had never even heard of Jamie Vardy, let alone realised that he was my son.”
The incredible story, in which Vardy has gone from non-league obscurity to England superstar, started when Richard met Lisa Clewes, six years his junior, in the Old Crown Inn on London Road in the 1980s.
They got together and Lisa fell pregnant. When Jamie was born he moved in where she lived with her parents.
“It didn’t go well,” Richard said. “I used to feed him and change him and push him out in the pram – but her parents did not approve of me.”
But within months, Richard began an affair and got another woman pregnant.
“I behaved badly,” he said.
“It is a real shame that things did not turn out differently. But his mother and I were really young and I completely lost touch with them.
“If he would like to meet me, that would be great but I understand he might not want to have anything to do with me. Either way, it’s been fantastic watching him play. I will remember that for the rest of my life.”
Vardy, an avid Owls fan, grew up a stone’s throw away from Hillsborough stadium with his mother, Lisa and stepfather Philip Vardy – who Jamie always called dad.
In the ‘lowest point’ of his career he was released by Sheffield Wednesday at the age of 16 for being ‘too small’ and his rise through eight tiers of English football has attracted much media attention.
From plying his trade at Bracken Moor with Stocksbridge Park Steels, he went to Halifax FC, then Fleetwood Town before his big break moving to Leicester City
He then went to score in 11 consecutive Premier League games – a new record.
There has also been talk that Vardy’s incredible story could be made into a Hollywood blockbuster, with A-listers Robert Pattinson or Zac Efron touted for the role.