NLP Column by Adam Ellis
Jamie Vardy has gone on to forge a remarkable career in football from his earlier days in the lower leagues.
But he is someone who has become so widely written about everyone from Land’s End to John O’Groats has come to groan whenever they read his name and ‘Non-League’ as the subject of a news headline.
It is a little bit like when you would flick through the TV channels and you find Clare Balding presenting Crufts, then she’s on the BBC fronting coverage of the athletics and on Channel 4 doing the horse racing. And, in this regard, it’s similar when you see Jamie Vardy and another Non-League angle taken by a sportswriter who is tapping what’s left of an empty keg.
His story is not unique to him and is not unique to Non-League football in this country or, indeed, in other football-loving nations. But that should not diminish the feats of his career – Clare Balding is still a great presenter after all, that’s why she is getting all the TV gigs.
For Vardy, seeing his career ascend to the international stage was something few footballers can dream of. But here are a few who have trod the same path as the former FC Halifax Town forward.
Miroslav Klose (Germany) – FC 08 Homberg
The record goalscorer in FIFA World Cups was a bit of a late-bloomer in the sport before becoming a force for Die Mannschaft.
At the age of 20, Klose was splitting his time between pulling on the colours of fifth division side FC 08 Homberg and bricklaying before a move to Kaiserslautern II in 1999 saw his career come into fruition.
125 goals for Bundesliga sides Kaiserslautern, Werder Bremen and European giants Bayern Munich followed, as well as a five-year stint in Italy with Lazio where he averaged one goal every two-and-a-half games.
For the national team, Klose became a much-needed puzzle piece that had been missing since Oliver Bierhoff’s retirement. In 137 caps for Germany Klose scored 71 times, including 16 goals at World Cups to pass Ronaldo’s record.
Fernando Llorente (Spain) – CD Basconia
Granted, Basque country club Basconia act as a feeder club to Athletic Bilbao but they are a club established in their own right and with their own history.
Llorente was a teenager when he turned out for the third-tier side reaching double-figures in the 2003-04 season.
Eight years with Bilbao followed and so did international honours as Llorente provided the grunt to back up the skill and finesse of David Villa and Fernando Torres in Spain’s World Cup and European Championship double of 2010 and 2012.