Vardy’s per­fect 10

CityPress - - Sport -

Le­ices­ter City’s Jamie Vardy last week be­came one of only two play­ers to have scored in 10 suc­ces­sive Premier League games – the other is Manch­ester United striker Ruud van Nis­tel­rooy.

Hav­ing equalled the record set by the for­mer Nether­lands in­ter­na­tional, Vardy’s ex­ploits played a big role in the Foxes find­ing them­selves at the top of the Premier League stand­ings be­fore yes­ter­day’s round of matches, an un­prece­dented sit­u­a­tion for a team that was lan­guish­ing at the bot­tom of the ta­ble be­tween Novem­ber and April last sea­son be­fore a late string of vic­to­ries saved them from rel­e­ga­tion.

Dur­ing that cam­paign, Vardy man­aged a mea­gre five goals in his 34 Premier League ap­pear­ances, com­pared with his cur­rent av­er­age of a goal per game, which shows that the num­ber nine’s hot streak was as un­ex­pected as his team’s run to the pin­na­cle of English foot­ball.

But while Vardy’s ex­ploits have been as mirac­u­lous as his club’s, the sit­u­a­tion in which Van Nis­tel­rooy hit the land­mark was some­what dif­fer­ent, as the Dutch striker fin­ished the 2002/03 sea­son as a Premier League cham­pion with United, beat­ing Thierry Henry to the Golden Boot with 25 goals in 34 games while also be­ing named Premier League player of the sea­son and the best striker in Europe by the Union of Euro­pean Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tions.

But for all his ex­ploits in 2002/03, Van Nis­tel­rooy had to wait un­til the next sea­son to break the record, with two goals in the first two league matches of 2003/04, as he main­tained his form af­ter the off-sea­son break to pick up where he left off as the dead­li­est for­ward in Eng­land.

Van Nis­tel­rooy ar­rived at United in 2001 as an ex­pen­sive for­eign ac­qui­si­tion, a top scorer in the Ere­di­visie and Dutch foot­baller of the year, as well as a full Nether­lands in­ter­na­tional.

Vardy, how­ever, only made his Eng­land de­but in June as a 28year-old, more than three years af­ter he joined the Foxes in 2012 from fifth-tier Fleet­wood Town.

There have been plenty of tal­ented, glam­ourous strik­ers to grace the Premier League since Van Nis­tel­rooy set the record in 2003, though none was able to match his streak un­til the for­mer Hal­i­fax Town striker started scor­ing, and has yet to stop, when Le­ices­ter were 2-0 down to As­ton Villa.

The now 39-year-old Dutch­man, who also fea­tured for Real Madrid and Ham­burg be­fore re­tir­ing at Malaga in 2012, had no prob­lem with the idea of the for­merly lit­tle-known playter sur­pass­ing a record he has held for more than a decade.

“I sent him a mes­sage of sup­port last week­end on so­cial me­dia and I re­ally meant it,” said Van Nis­tel­rooy. “It would be fan­tas­tic for him. I re­ally mean it – records are there to be bro­ken.”

Vardy said: “I kept get­ting it [Van Nis­tel­rooy’s mes­sage] sent to me, and fair play to him for do­ing it. He didn’t have to do that.”

Vardy had a chance to break the record yes­ter­day against Manch­ester United when Le­ices­ter wel­comed the Red Devils to King Power Sta­dium yes­ter­day. The re­sult was not avail­able at the time of go­ing to print.

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