Vardy’s perfect 10
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.