Jamie Vardy on title repeats, breaking records and why he stayed at Leicester
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- What a difference a year makes. 12 months ago, Jamie Vardy was part of a Leicester squad that had barely avoided relegation the previous season and was again tipped for the drop.
Now, having recently signed a new contract with the club, the 29-year-old sits down for our interview as a Premier League champion, Footballer of the Year and England international.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
ESPN FC: What's it like being in Hollywood with the Premier League trophy?
Vardy: It is very surreal. Who knows, they might get us on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!
ESPN FC: Describe the little gathering you had as Chelsea drew with Tottenham to secure you the title?
Vardy: It was brilliant. Tottenham were 2-0 up and it was just turning out to be a little gathering with a bit of food. But as soon as [Eden] Hazard scored the place erupted and a few TVs broke. Even the settee almost broke, but it was all worth it.
ESPN FC: Does it amuse you that the "Jamie Vardy's having a party" chant has caught on?
Vardy: At the end of the day it gets all the fans nice and loud and it gets the stadium going. For us as players it's brilliant hearing that. The fans sometimes are the 12th man so, for them to be as noisy as that constantly, is brilliant.
ESPN FC: What do you sense it means for the people of Leicester to be Premier League champions?
Vardy: It is brilliant. It just shows you that, even though we were 5,000-1 underdogs and apparently one of the teams that were supposed to be relegated, these fairy tales can happen.
ESPN FC: Did you ever think in your wildest dreams that 24 goals in a Premier League season was possible for you?
Vardy: No. It was never something I looked at back then, but the gaffer has given me a lot of freedom to make my runs in behind and I have players who I have got with me backing me up and constantly fighting to win balls for me. I just took each game as it came and found myself getting on the scoresheet quite regularly. The gaffer set me a target of 15 goals at the beginning of the season and will probably do so again and thankfully I was able to better that.
ESPN FC: You also scored in a record-breaking 11 consecutive games. Talk us through that last goal against Manchester United.
Vardy: Christian Fuchs has told me about it enough times! Kasper [Schmeichel] threw it out to Christian and Christian decided to do the no-look pass, which is all he ever talks about. So basically it was his no-look pass that got me the goal, nothing to do with any run I did or me sprinting up the pitch as fast as I could! I had seen that David De Gea, when he comes out, doesn't really go to ground. He just stands up and puts his body in a weird shape and luckily it has gone over his heel and into the back of the net.
ESPN FC: What went through your mind in the immediate aftermath of the goal?
Vardy: I couldn't tell you. I think that's just when you are in a world of your own and you say a few things you shouldn't. You just get carried away with yourself.
ESPN FC: You might see that goal as your personal high, but is it fair to say the goal of the season was your screamer at home to Liverpool?
Vardy: Yes. Riyad Mahrez has done brilliant. He has not let the full-back outmuscle him and has crawled inside and then seen me make my run and hit a ball over the top. I had seen during the course of the game that [Simon] Mignolet was quite far off his line and, when I looked up, he still was so I just hit it and luckily it was sweet enough and went in.
ESPN FC: Does Nigel Pearson get any credit for your Premier League title?
Vardy: There will always be people, who say that is the case. We know as players we just carried on playing the same. To be fair to Mr. Ranieri he came in and didn't want to change too much from the previous season when we did go on the great escape. He just had a few tactical tweaks and they paid dividends.
ESPN FC: Do you prefer Ranieri's style since he has used you through the centre?
Vardy: It was good. He has basically let me have a free role and it has helped the team a lot. I have obviously been able to score a lot of goals, but I wouldn't have been able to do that without my teammates anyway.
ESPN FC: You have committed your long-term future to Leicester. Was it an easy decision?
Vardy: Yes. I have always said how close knit the lads are. We are like a band of brothers. Personally, I think the club is only going one way and that's forwards, so there's a lot of unfinished business and I want to be part of it.
ESPN FC: How important is loyalty to you?
Vardy: Yes, definitely. Most of the squad are signing their new deals now as well, so it's looking very good. We'll just have to wait and see what happens now.
ESPN FC: I know it is out of your control, but it would be a huge boost if Riyad Mahrez either signs a new deal or at least chooses to stay on his current one.
Vardy: It would be brilliant for the club but, like you say, it is nothing to do with me. There's nothing I can do, so we will have to wait and see what the club do.
ESPN FC: What about next season? Is it hard to stay grounded and will the first goal be to get 40 points?
Vardy: Yes, 40 points will be the first target and, as soon as we hit that, the barrier will get moved up again; hopefully we will keep moving up and hitting the targets each time.
ESPN FC: Any reason why you can't repeat the miracle?
Vardy: No, not at all, but we will keep grounded and just keep hitting those targets as and when they come.
ESPN FC: And what about the Champions League? Given you are in the first seeding pool, do you stand a realistic chance of reaching the last 16?
Vardy: We will have to wait and see. It is going to be a very enjoyable experience and I am very much looking forward to seeing where we will be travelling and who we will be up against. I don't think we will prepare any differently, though, than for a league game.
ESPN FC: You will come up against Jose Mourinho and Manchester United in the Community Shield. Do you fear revenge will be at stake, given Leicester's win over Chelsea got him sacked last December?
Vardy: I am not sure there will be a backlash. He will just be doing exactly what our gaffer will be doing and picking a team that he thinks can win the game.
ESPN FC: And what about the new and more stringent rules regarding discipline. You had a run-in with the officials in the draw with West Ham last season. Are you worried about getting needlessly booked before you get used to the change?
Vardy: We know what the new rules are and it is down to us as players to abide by them. We have had a refs meeting. One of the refs turns up at the training ground and lets you know exactly what is happening and all you can do is abide by those rules.
Ben Jacobs is ESPN FC's Leicester City blogger. Follow him on Twitter @JacobsBen.