Striker’s fairy­tale shows im­por­tance of be­liev­ing in young English tal­ent

The Daily Telegraph - Total Football - - TOTAL FOOTBALL | BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE -

came onto our radar at Tot­ten­ham when he had moved to Swin­don Town at the age of 20. It shows that you just never know.

I am cer­tain that we are pro­duc­ing qual­ity foot­ballers through­out Eng­land and, look­ing at the way Vardy, Austin and Lam­bert have de­vel­oped, you do have to won­der how many other play­ers with sim­i­lar po­ten­tial could have been missed by Premier League clubs who might be fo­cus­ing on other mar­kets around the world. You need tal­ent but you also need some­one to be­lieve in you. Ian Wright, Stu­art Pearce, Les Fer­di­nand and, go­ing back even fur­ther, Alan Devon­shire, were all play­ers who had great ca­reers af­ter com­ing up through non-league.

Look also at the Bournemouth team. OK, peo­ple will say they have slipped down the ta­ble re­cently but that has been be­cause of all the in­juries. They to­tally out­played New­cas­tle a few weeks ago and have done the same to plenty of even bet­ter teams this sea­son and yet they are also full of play­ers who have come up through the lower leagues. The dif­fer­ence is that they have had a man­ager in Ed­die Howe who has given them a chance.

Work­ing your way up into the Premier League can some­times also be an ad­van­tage. As a man­ager, you of­ten find that th­ese play­ers are hun­grier and more grounded. They have seen the other side and will do ev­ery­thing to make the most of their chance. I bet Vardy wakes up ev­ery morn­ing think­ing how fan­tas­tic this all is. He is now 28 but he de­serves his chance for Eng­land.

He might not be the big­gest or most sexy name but he has been the best striker in the Premier League this sea­son and there is no rea­son why he can­not keep pro­duc­ing at this level. He can also play a big part for Eng­land at the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship fi­nals next sum­mer. He is the sort of striker de­fend­ers hate to play against. He has got pace and en­ergy; he tracks back and does not give you a mo­ment to re­lax. His con­fi­dence is sky high and he is also show­ing how well he can fin­ish.

Le­ices­ter City’s sys­tem also suits him and you have to give Clau­dio Ranieri and Nigel Pear­son a mas­sive amount of credit. They turned the cor­ner at the end of last sea­son un­der Nigel and some of their foot­ball this sea­son has been fan­tas­tic. It was a hor­ren­dous re­sult for New­cas­tle on Satur­day but Le­ices­ter are very solid de­fen­sively and they have got pace. An­other big fac­tor has been Wes Mor­gan; some­one else who has got his chance af­ter com­ing up from the Foot­ball League with Le­ices­ter and be­fore that Not­ting­ham For­est.

He is now in his 30s but the cen­tre-back part­ner­ship he is forming with Robert Huth – an­other fan­tas­tic buy and an un­sung hero this sea­son – has been one of the best in the Premier League. We had some­thing sim­i­lar when I was at Portsmouth and Lin­voy Primus, who had not played so much at the high­est level, was fan­tas­tic for me later in his ca­reer along­side Sol Camp­bell. Again, it was an ex­am­ple of what can be achieved with an op­por­tu­nity and the right at­ti­tude.

Can Le­ices­ter keep it up? I have also had some un­fan­cied teams climb high up the ta­ble in the first half of a sea­son and it is very dif­fi­cult to stay there. Over a sea­son, the added qual­ity and strength in depth of the clubs with the great­est re­sources is usu­ally de­ci­sive. The top six, though, is now very pos­si­ble for Le­ices­ter and that would still be a re­mark­able achieve­ment.

Play­ers who work their way up are of­ten hun­grier and will do ev­ery­thing to take their chance

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