Football News

‘People said we were mad’ – How Pearson helped avoid early end to Jamie Vardy’s Leicester City career

By Harry Edwards

Published: 12:07, 17 March 2020

Watford manager Nigel Pearson has revealed how he helped Jamie Vardy deal with fierce criticism early at the start of his Leicester City career.

Vardy made headlines in 2015/16, scoring 24 goals in 36 games to help Leicester win the Premier League title against all odds, having managed just five the previous season.

As a result of the remarkable season, Vardy has gone on to represent England at Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, scoring seven goals in 26 appearances in total.

Why was Vardy low on confidence? Five things to know…

  • Jamie Vardy signed for Leicester from Fleetwood Town in 2012.
  • The Englishman scored just four goals in his debut campaign against a backdrop of “questions and moaning” among fans.
  • There were rumours he might return to Sheffield Wednesday, who released him as a teenager, or even retire.
  • But Vardy stayed went on to fire Leicester to the Premier League title in 2015/16…
  • …and he’s currently the Premier League’s top scorer in 2019/20 and has scored 99 goals in the competition in total.

Although Vardy has not replicated his 2015/16 campaign completely, the Englishman has managed 99 Premier League goals in his career. That figure includes 19 goals scored this season to put him in front in the race for the Golden Boot.

But Vardy hasn’t always enjoyed this kind of goalscoring form at Leicester. It is widely known that Vardy joined Leicester for over £1 million in May 2012 from non-league side Fleetwood Town, a time when the Foxes were in the Championship.

Vardy would score just four league goals in his debut Leicester campaign, often going long spells without finding the net. He overcame the goalscoring issues to eventually help fire Leicester to the Championship title and beyond, something Pearson takes pride in.

“When we signed him, people were saying we were mad,” Pearson, who was Leicester manager at Vardy’s arrival, told The Telegraph.

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“Early on there was a period when he wasn’t scoring and people were asking questions and moaning. There were rumours about him wanting to go back to Sheffield Wednesday, or even packing it in.

“He had a crisis of confidence but I said, ‘I’m just going to keep playing you’. There was a lot of ‘we believe in you’. It wasn’t all fluffy like that – there was probably some ‘f***ing get on with it’, too.

“We never envisaged him hitting the heights he did. We knew what his strengths were and even if for a million quid he’d have provided the springboard for us to get in the Premier League, and then it went no further, he would have been value for money. But what he’s done is incredible.”