Jamie Vardy has had a career like few other players in the game. Most players his age have had it all easy. Many were driving sports cars whilst still in their teens. Jamie Vardy had to scratch and claw his way up through football’s ranks. When they talk about a rags to riches story, his is most definitely it. He has made it through sheer hard work.
When Leicester pulled off the EPL miracle last year, most people would have been forgiven for thinking that the squad might come apart. These players had proved themselves at the very highest level, and there were no shortage of available suitors.
Vardy, as the lynchpin of the team, had more attention than most.
One of the clubs interested was Arsenal. When they made their move I don’t think there was an observer in the whole of the country who thought the Leicester forward wouldn’t end up there. It was as good as done; game, set and match. Most thought it would be the cherry on the cake of his incredible rise through the ranks. Ending up in London, at a Champions League club … it was just perfect. Indeed, it was a little bit too perfect.
In a novel this is how it would end, with Vardy going to The Emirates and signing a massive contract, enriching his former club into the bargain. Everyone’s a winner, right? Well … no. Narratively satisfying though it might be, it’s a story we’ve all seen a thousand times but this isn’t your average straight to video low budget flick … this is a fairy-tale.
And it needs a fairy-tale ending. Boy-done-good ending up with everything isn’t that.
So what is a fairy-tale ending here? Why it’s Leicester going to Milan or Madrid in the Quarter Finals and Vardy sinking a couple past the hosts to send Leicester through. At that point, the circle is complete and it doesn’t even matter whether they win the thing or not.
At the end of Rocky, he loses to Apollo Creed; there are people who’ve seen the first film but not the sequels who don’t even know that, and they wouldn’t care if they did. At the end of Goal, we don’t see Newcastle win the EPL. It’s not about them. That story is about the kid from the barrio who becomes a superstar. That’s Vardy. He’s Rocky and just going the distance is what this particular story is all about. It can’t end on a bum note or with the viewer feeling cheated somehow. Goal II was a bunch of crap; why was it? Cause the kid has made it already. The struggle is over. The Real Madrid plot doesn’t seem real. It’s got no gravitas.
Leicester have scaled the impossible height. The chances are they’re not going to be able to scale the next one, but this is the sequel we were waiting for, this is the struggle the neutrals wanted to watch. The plucky team who’ve already worked a miracle try to do it again. Win or lose, this is a worthy successor story to last year’s great adventure and that story just wouldn’t fit together without one of the star members of the cast.
Jamie Vardy has done us all a favour, and I include Arsenal in that. He can only fail there; one player isn’t going to be enough to move that team in the direction it needs to go. They require more than just some tweaking around the margins.
For Leicester it doesn’t get any better; not only have they secured the services of their main man, but they’ve sent a clear message to the other clubs – and to Europe – that they’re preparing for another shot at the big time, only with a far greater target in mind.
They can’t win it (but then, they couldn’t win the Premiership either, until they did) so, really, they can’t lose. This fairy-tale doesn’t have to end with the heavyweight champion lying on the canvas and the title belt slung over the challenger’s shoulder … but that’s what sequels are for, after all. If the story of the plucky underdog reaching for the sky is how the first film ends then that one’s already aired to rave reviews.
The sequel is for shooting the moon.
Thanks to Vardy’s excellent decision, this one is ready to roll.