Jamie Vardy: 'Turning down Arsenal doesn’t mean I wouldn’t look at another offer'
It may be the most remarkable story in Premier League history, but Jamie Vardy has insisted that one winners’ medal is not enough and has not ruled out a move away from Leicester City if another big offer comes his way. Vardy has spent the summer trying to launch the careers of 42 non-League hopefuls, who dream of following in his footsteps, through his V9 Academy. Despite the fact he has been trying to find the ‘next Jamie Vardy’, the man himself is not ready to accept that his own journey is complete and is desperate to win more silverware – at Leicester or elsewhere. Vardy insists he will never regret turning down Arsenal, even though the Gunners won the FA Cup last season, and could be open to adding another chapter to his story by making a high-profile move either in England or overseas. “I want to win as much as possible, I don’t want to only have one Premier League medal in my drawer at home – it would be an empty glass cabinet,” said Vardy. “I want to win as much as possible. I’m contracted to Leicester and we will see how high we can go. In the future, who knows? “It was my choice to turn Arsenal down. But if another offer came in, it would be the same in that I would look at it and work out the pros and cons. But, no, turning down Arsenal doesn’t mean I wouldn’t look at another offer. Vardy played for England against Malta Credit: AFP “Down the road, there might be an opportunity to go to America or China. It would be something I would like to experience. I've seen other players do it. I know it will involve moving the family again, but it will give them a different experience to see different cultures.” When it was put to Vardy that he would also have an FA Cup winners’ medal if he had joined Arsenal, the 30-year-old replied: “But it weren’t the Premier League was it? So I’m all right with that I think. I’ll never regret anything I’ve chosen to do.” Asked what his reasons were for rejecting the Gunners, Vardy added: “It was just coming up with the positives and negatives, and I came up with a decision and I’m pleased with the decision I made. “They had qualified for the Champions League for the last 20 years or something, until last year. That was something to think about. But Leicester were also in the Champions League and on a different night at home against Atletico Madrid we could have gone even further.” Vardy during the Champions League Quarter Final first leg match against Atletico Madrid Credit: GETTY IMAGES Wherever he is, Vardy will be keeping a close eye on the careers of Danny Newton, Blair Turgott, Alex Penny and Lamar Reynolds, who all graduated from Vardy’s Academy and were signed by professional clubs. The first episode of The Next Jamie Vardy will be shown on Sky One on September 16 and former Hinckley United and Tamworth striker Newton, who had never previously played for a professional club, has started with three goals in five League Two games for Stevenage. “Straight away, as soon as our game finishes, I’m having a look to see if they have scored at each of their clubs,” said Vardy, who played for Stocksbridge Park Steels, Halifax Town and Fleetwood Town before joining Leicester five years ago. “If not, seeing if they’ve started. “Danny has started off well. I’ve spoken to him and he said it was quite hard for him in pre-season. He was saying that he bets the manager was thinking ‘what have we signed here’, then it just clicked for him and he’s been on fire.” Vardy believes 90 per cent of English clubs, even in the lower leagues, would rather sign a player from overseas than looking in non-League for bargains. “Within the non-League base, my scouts were probably better (than scouts at professional clubs),” said Vardy, who put more than £100,000 of his own money into the V9 project. “A lot of scouts wouldn’t even think about looking in non-League. Jamie and wife Rebekah Vardy oversee training at the first day of their V9 Academy “They are probably told to look at a specific position and specific type of player they want and it will either be someone from the league below they look at or nine times out of 10 nowadays they go abroad.” Having seen youngsters at professional clubs seek the trappings of a top footballer before making an impression on the first team, Vardy believes non-League players can be hungrier to prove themselves. “I think so, yes,” he said. “It was definitely the case for me. As soon as I signed for Leicester and knuckled down and things started going right, and I started scoring goals, I wanted to be as good as I possibly can. A lot of the academies now everything is done for you, but how long’s that going to last for?” As part of his fly-on-the-wall documentary, Vardy returned to the carbon fibre factory where he used to work while playing non-League football. He believes youngsters who have spent their lives in professional academies would benefit from being sent on placements and getting a taste of the real world. “I think it would definitely wake a few of them up,” said Vardy. “I can't see many players wanting to get up at six in the morning to go and do a nine-hour shift. It would definitely open their eyes and make them realise that it's not something they want to even have a chance of doing.” The graduates Danny Newton and Blair Turgott were both signed by Stevenage after impressing in the V9 Academy, but the pair have experienced very different career paths until now. Striker Newton has been likened to Jamie Vardy, as he was never signed by a professional academy or youth set up and has combined a non-League career with working in a factory. Danny Newton has been likened to Jamie Vardy The 26-year-old played up front for Hinckley United with Andre Gray, who this summer joined Watford from Burnley for a fee worth £18.5million. “I was a maintenance engineer,” said Newton, who has scored three goals in five games at Stevenage. “I did a four-year apprenticeship when I was 16 and carried it on. That paid the bills. I got a house with my girlfriend and I was comfortable. But it can’t compare to playing football every day. “I’ve never had an agent, I’ve never had trials. I’ve just played non-League. I was at Hinckley United in the Conference North when I was 17. I broke into the first team and was playing every week for three years and they went bust. “I played with Andre Gray for two years. He’s gone and done it. We played up front together at the time. Luton took him and he’s progressed after getting that chance. I’ve just left it a bit late, but I’m grateful now the V9 academy has given me this chance.” Blair Turgott has played for West Ham, Coventry and Leyton Orient among others Winger Turgott joined West Ham United aged just eight and played in England youth teams with Raheem Sterling and Nathaniel Chalobah, both of whom he is still in touch with. The 23-year-old was loaned out to Bradford City, Colchester United, Rotherham United and Dagenham and Redbridge before being released by the Hammers two years ago. "My first loan was at Bradford when I was 17 and I was lonely,” said Turgott. “I had never been away from home and I was literally just going to training and coming back to a hotel in Bradford city centre. It was difficult at first. “I played for the England youth teams with Raheem Sterling, Nathan Redmond and Nathaniel Chalobah, and it shows that the cream will rise to the top. It's good to see those boys doing so well, and they tell me to keep my head up. Just because one person says ‘no’, it doesn't mean you aren't good enough to make it as a footballer.” 20 best players in the Premier League: August 2017