Thank you Vardy much, for realising our dreams
Leicester's hero realises all of our dreams
LEICESTER CITY 2
(Jamie Vardy 60, 71)
A movie scriptwriter watched Jamie Vardy score the goal of the season, but this isn't a Hollywood story. This is our story.
Vardy scored our goal. That goal. The goal we rehearse as we wait for the school bus, or stand by the boiling kettle, or drift away during a dull office meeting.
Vardy made our dreams his reality and we love him for it, just as we should love Leicester City's surreal stampede towards the Premier League title.
The Foxes' 2-0 victory over a lethargic Liverpool side yesterday morning (Singapore time) was a euphoric campaign crystallised in a single moment.
Vardy's ridiculous volley earned every goal-of-the-season honour the nanosecond it left his boot and swerved and dipped its way past the hapless Simon Mignolet.
But his first goal was so much more than just a spectacular finish.
It was rock 'n' roll football, turning Jamie Vardy into Jimi Hendrix. He kissed the sky.
And then he saluted the crowd, saluting us, acknowledging us.
This one's for you.
And it really was. His goal, like his journey from part-time Sunday morning striker to England's attacking leader at Euro 2016, was not a Herculean feat.
It was an everyman turning into Superman. It was a glorious reminder that every underdog has his day, as long as he's alive to the possibility.
For the likes of Lionel Messi, the impossible really is nothing. He lives up to his sponsor's slogan because he's an alien, a glorious, freakish, genetic cocktail of athletic perfection.
He walks among us. But he will never be one of us. His otherworldliness remains the attraction. An audience will always be drawn to the unattainable.
ONE OF US
But Vardy looks, talks, behaves and lives like one of us, often running around wide-eyed and open-mouthed as if playing the superhero in someone else's comic-strip fable.
In a season of bewildering chaos, Vardy is first among near equals, an everyman among everymen. He is the guiltiest of pleasures, an utter joy to behold.
He keeps those secret, flickering hopes alive. In the darkest recesses of our psyche, a distant voice cries out in celebration.
He's just like me. I could've been him.
Of course we couldn't. Vardy had the resolve, the application, the ceaseless focus and the indefatigable spirit, not to mention the initial talent, to prevail.
And we had too many beers, late-night suppers and skipped gym sessions, not to mention a distinct lack of initial talent, to stop us from succeeding.
But, apart from all that, there's nothing between Vardy and the appreciative viewer. He's one of us.
That's why every subtlety and nuance of his insane strike has already been processed, recorded and preserved in the mind's eye.
In fact, we've already seen the goal, performed the goal even, many times before. It's that goal, the one accompanied by the commentary of our prepubescent voice.
The pass over the top is exquisite, naturally, but there is still so much to do as the ball drops over the shoulder. The volley must be immediate, precise, intelligent and quick; a smart bomb with greater panache.
The world is watching. The crowd rises in anticipation. The goalkeeper back-pedals. And then, the ball bursts the net and the delirious scorer is buried beneath ecstatic teammates.
It's the stuff of every school playground, the blow-by-blow account of every football fantasy and also the reason why we keep coming back, why we endure one tedious tactical stalemate after another.
There is always the slightly silly notion that those flights of fancy might one day become reality, that an ordinary guy might have an extraordinary day at the office. And then we could share, for a second or two, his brief encounter with immortality.
And Vardy made it happen. He actually made it real.
With his ingenious flash of inspiration, he awoke the child in all of us.
The hypnotising volley allowed us to regress to a time before adult cynicism, when anyone could achieve anything, when local kids could be international heroes, when Leicester City could challenge for titles.
The fabulous finish was a one-in-a-million strike, but it had already been designed in a million dreams.
Vardy hasn't just given us the goal of the season. He's given us the goal of our childhood.
LEICESTER: Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Simpson, Wes Morgan, Robert Huth, Christian Fuchs, Riyad Mahrez (Leonardo Ulloa 90), N’Golo Kante, Danny Drinkwater, Marc Albrighton (Demarai Gray 79), Shinji Okazaki (Andy King 87), Jamie Vardy
LIVERPOOL: Simon Mignolet, Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren, Mamadou Sakho, Alberto Moreno, Emre Can (Joe Allen 75), Lucas Leiva, Jordan Henderson (Christian Benteke 66), Adam Lallana, James Milner, Roberto Firmino (Joao Carlos Teixeira 87)
WHAT THEY SAY
- Claudio Ranieri, Leicester City manager
Fantastic goal. Unbelievable pass from Mahrez. Unbelievable what Vardy did.
- Juergen Klopp, Liverpool manager
I was close to clapping my hands (after Vardy's first goal) to be honest, but I just felt too bad at that moment.
- Iain Dowie, former Southampton striker
This is one of the best goals I've ever seen.
- Gary Lineker, former England captain
Goal of the decade from Vardy!
- Ruud Gullit, former Chelsea manager
What a fantastic goal by #vardy.
Vardy pledges future to Foxes
Jamie Vardy insists he plans to stay at Leicester, after his wonder goal inspired the Foxes to a 2-0 win over Liverpool yesterday morning (Singapore time).
The forward is in talks over a new deal and marked the discussions with a stunning opening strike, before wrapping up a comfortable win with his 18th goal of the season.
His brace at the King Power Stadium, in front of watching England boss Roy Hodgson, kept the Foxes three points ahead of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.
Vardy volleyed in from 30 metres and ran riot over Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren, having regained top form following groin surgery.
Before the match, it emerged that talks had begun over a deal until 2019, and Vardy said he intends to stay.
He told Sky Sports: "It's nothing people don't know, I'd like to be here for a long time.
"I don't (think I've scored better). I had been looking all game and he (Simon Mignolet) was quite far off his line.
TAKE A CHANCE
"As soon as Riyad (Mahrez) had played it through, it's bounced quite high and I've got no support, so I just took my chance and, luckily, it's gone over the top of (Migonlet)."
Boss Claudio Ranieri added: "It's incredible what Vardy did. He watched the ball, watched the opponent and watched the goalkeeper. It's amazing, fantastic. This opened the match."
Leicester dominated for long spells and deserved their victory, but Ranieri admitted they face a different test when they go to their top-of-the-table clash at the Etihad on Saturday.
"On Saturday, we have to run, run and run a lot," he said.
"It's important to see my players fight and try to win.
"We know sooner or later we'll lose a match, but it's important how we lose. If there is a great goal, well done, but we have to fight.
"If Manchester City fight more than us, well done to them."
Defeat left Liverpool floundering in eighth, six points from fifth-placed Manchester United.
They rarely threatened and Christian Benteke had another anonymous outing from the bench to further cast doubt over his suitability in boss Juergen Klopp's team.
The German felt his players could have taken something from the game but, ultimately, their decision-making cost them.
"We had opportunities in the box, but we didn't find the right decision often enough," he said.
"The longer the game was, we didn't get cooler, the decisions didn't get better.
"We had the ball in their box and didn't shoot.
"One second later, Vardy shoots from 30 metres and the ball was in. This says most about the game. I don't feel too good."
But Klopp took time to acknowledge Vardy's brilliant opener.
He added: "It's nice to be in a stadium when Jamie Vardy makes the goal of the month but, in an ideal world, not when you're the manager of the other team. It made the difference." - PA Sport.
EPL TOP SCORERS
- Jamie Vardy (Leicester)
- Romelu Lukaku (Everton)
- Harry Kane (Tottenham)
- Odion Ighalo (Watford)
- Riyad Mahrez (Leicester)
- Sergio Aguero (Man City)
- Olivier Giroud (Arsenal)