Jamie Vardy’s Volley and Leicester City’s Title Aspirations

By Cameron Anderson

The 2015-16 football season will be remembered for generations in Leicester, a small, working-class-town in the middle of England. On February 2, 2016 a quick, hard working striker by the name of Jamie Vardy stood around, his engine idling while his team defended; frustrating their bigger and richer opponents: Liverpool. Leicester won the ball back and instantly, as he had done so many times during this magical season, Vardy was off racing down the touchline before the Liverpool defense could even realize what had happened.

Leicester City entered the season at ridiculous 5000-1 odds to win the English Premier League, a league with a clear ruling class. The Haves and the Have-Nots are so entrenched in stone that there was never a question, even late into the year, that Leicester City would slip up and be overtaken by a bigger club with more talent, a deeper squad, a more renowned manager and a larger stadium. That never happened.

As Vardy raced on, honing in on ball that had been launched forward to spark a one-man-counterattack that defined Leicesters season, it was impossible not to see the identity of Leicester in the hardworking form of their ruthless striker. Only four years earlier Vardy had been playing non-league football, eons away from his dream of playing in the Premier League. He had trouble with the law more recently, even having to leave games early to meet his curfew requirements while his ankle monitor followed him around the field. The odds were long for Vardy, they were long for Leicester and they were dubious on this particular counter-attack.

The match was scoreless entering the 60thminute, a nil-nil draw seemed on the cards. Leicester held a slim three-point edge in the table over both Manchester City and Arsenal: two more of the giants destined to erase Leicester’s title aspirations.

Jamie Vardy saw the ball bouncing well outside the box near the touchline and Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet off his line. In a moment of what most would consider overconfidence, Vardy put his foot through the ball. His incredible first-time volley flew 35 yards into the corner of the net and put Leicester ahead for good in a match they would eventually win 2-0. Vardy’s improbable strike kept them three points up in the league through 24 match weeks. By season’s end Leicester City would have the most remarkable title in the history of football and Vardy would finish on 24 goals, good for second in the race for the golden boot. There was no challenge this player, this team or this town could not overcome.