The phrase ‘sliding doors’ comes to mind.
Back in the summer of 2012, Leicester City raised eyebrows all over the UK when they invested £1 million in a little-known non-league striker by the name of Jamie Vardy. That made the then-Fleetwood Town star the most expensive non-league player in history.
But it’s fair to say the risk reaped rewards. Just four years later, Vardy was lifting the Premier League title aloft, firing Leicester to glory with 24 goals as The Foxes produced one of the greatest sporting miracles of our time.
Yet it could have been oh-so different had Allardyce, not to mention West Ham co-owner David Sullivan, taken the plunge on a player whose rapid rise has been so dramatic that it sparked talk of a Hollywood blockbuster.
“(Then-Fleetwood manager) Micky Mellon rang up and said ‘give us £1 million, it will be the best signing you’ve ever made’,” said the former England manager.
“I tell you now, that was quite a lot of money for a non-league player then.”
“I just wondered whether Jamie could jump out of the conference (straight to the Premier League) so I didn’t do it.
“I went to David Sullivan and he went; ‘non league player, a million pounds? Will he go straight in your team?’. I’ve been kicking myself ever since.”
Vardy has gone on to score 85 goals in less than six-and-a-half Premier League seasons with Leicester and, thanks to that clinching strike away at Crystal Palace on Sunday, he became the first player to hit double figures in England’s top flight in 2019/20.
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