By Bryan Juan Tavira, performance area coordinator in Bewolfish. Graduated in Physical Activity and Sports Science and Master in Performance and Tecnification of high sports performance.
Nowadays, many professional football players started their career with great teams, profiting from great coaches and experienced teammates from a very young age on. That way, they have been able to develop skills from the grassroots. However, this is neither a guarantee for success, nor is it the key to reaching the first division. Playing on a top professional level does not necessarily require a top team as starting situation, it is all about dedication and effort. A recent example that every footballer will know is the case of Jamie Vardy.
Jamie Vardy is not the typical talented and magical player that every football fan would like to see rather is he the hardworking and intelligent player that every team would like to have. Why? Simply because he knows how to use his strengths and at all times gets the measure of what must be done to make the most of the field and to help the team. However, the most important fact of his success is him never forgetting where he came from and how much effort it took to get this far.
“The English footballer did not grow up
in first-class teams and made his debut
in the Premier League, not until the age
of 27 (in 2014)”
Vardy has it clear “I just want to continue playing football as much as I can, because that’s what I’ve always done. To be honest, my performance is a reflection of what I am, I am happy in my club knowing that I am working on what I really like”.
The English footballer, who is a reference for many players, did not grow up in first-class teams and made his debut in the Premier League, not until the age of 27 (in 2014). How did he do it? Let’s analyze his development…
Jamie Vardy played in the lower levels of Sheffield Wednesday until the age of 16. Despite being the team’s scorer the club directors decided to rescind his contract. Vardy got told: “You are very young and we have decided not counting with you”. Suddenly he found himself without a team which was a very difficult situation to handle, mainly he had to manage it all by himself. He let off steam on the streets and after several conflicts were forced by the police to wear an electronic anklet for a year; Vardy was on home detention curfew.
It took him four turbulent years to realize it is time for a change. When he turned 21 years old he decided for a fresh start in his life. In 2007 he returned to football to pursue a professional career. He joined the club Stocksbridge Park Steels earning 30 pounds per week (about 34 euros) while additionally working in a factory to earn his living.
Three seasons later he switched to the English seventh division club Halifax Town, and in just one season he became the team’s top scorer with 27 goals. This captured the attention of a fifth division club, Fleetwood Town. Joining them, once again, Jamie did not disappoint, he won the league with the team scoring 30 goals in that season.
In 2012 it was Leicester City who took a chance on him. The club was in the English second division at that time. With Leicester City Vardy won the Championship in the season of 2013-2014. This led to his debut in the Premier League in the following season, the same year that Roy Hodgson called for him to join the English national team.
Jamie went from being close to relegation to winning the Premier League just within his second season in the Premier League; he also broke the record of Ruud Van Nistelrooy to score in 11 consecutive games! That same season, at the age of 29 years, Jamie Vardy was chosen as one of the players in the Premier League’s “team of the season”.
Currently, at the age of 31, Vardy has played in the biggest European club competition, the Champions League, and is going to play his first World Championship with the English National Team. From Sheffield Wednesday to the Premier League, the Championship and the World Cup.
An inspiring story that leaves us with several reflections. First of all, if you really know where you want to go, you should never give up, even if the path is not easy. You must be prepared for taking a life-changing decision. Secondly, Jamie has shown us that a player can grow up in semi-professional categories and still play in the best competitions in the world. Jamie did not start playing in the best soccer academies neither was he a spectacular player, but he achieved the dream of making his debut in the highest competitions due to his effort and dedication.
“Success is not about time, age, talent or
categories, it is the sacrifice, effort, confidence
and perseverance one is dedicating”
Although it seems an exceptional case, it is not. In fact, if we analyze how many Messi’s exist and how many players play at a European first division club, we will see that there are more Jamie Vardy’s than Leo Messi’s. Success is not about time, age, talent or categories, it is the sacrifice, effort, confidence and perseverance one is dedicating. Nobody can give you the certainty of being able to reach your goal but you have it in your hands to make to most of every situation on your way to make your dream become reality.