Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy has described the moment he quit his factory job to take up football professionally as the best decision of his life.
The England international has been named the 11th best player in world for 2016 in the Goal 50 after he scored 24 goals in the Foxes’ historic Premier League title win.
The 29-year-old also represented England at his first major tournament – scoring in the win over Wales at Euro 2016 – before helping Leicester take the Champions League by storm in their debut season in Europe’s premier club competition.
And Vardy – whose journey from non-league star to Premier League winner is in the process of being turned into a Hollywood movie – has never looked back from the day he left his job in a carbon fibre factory to focus on his footballing career.
“Yes, definitely,” he told Our News sportmen when asked if it was the best decision of his life. “I was just basically playing with mates and enjoying myself.
“I never thought any of this could happen. Luckily I got given my chance and it has done. A lot of hard work had to go into it.
“Nothing like that [being in the world’s top 50 players] was even crossing my mind. I was just enjoying football and working full-time.
“Luckily I quit my job and signed full-time as a footballer three days later.”
Vardy’s life has been turned upside down since inspiring Leicester to success, with the striker’s off-field activities regularly the focus of newspaper stories while his performances on the pitch have come under added scrutiny.
And the former Fleetwood Town forward admits he is yet to really sit back and reflect on all he has achieved in recent years, though he is keen not to dwell on past achievements and instead move forward with the rest of his career.
When asked if he has had time to look back, he said: “Not fully, but you do get bits of time to try and let it all sink in.
“It has done, but as soon as it does you’re straight back into pre-season and the new season, so you have to try and forget about it all.”
Vardy’s home came under the spotlight on the night Leicester clinched the title, as he and his team-mates celebrated wildly in front of the television as rivals Tottenham were held to a 2-2 draw by Chelsea.
And he insists that, although certain results made him believe the team could upset all the odds and go on to win the Premier League, it wasn’t until that famous night in his living room that he knew the fairy-tale had come true.
“When we played Man City away and beat them we felt we had a chance if we carried on playing like that, but obviously the little shindig at my house was the defining moment.
“It was unbelievable. [It was a] bit quiet when Chelsea went 2-0 down but as soon as the goals went in, it was a mad house!”