LONDON: Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri says England striker Jamie Vardy is relishing every moment of his high-profile bid to break a long-standing Premier League scoring record.
Vardy will set a new Premier League record if he scores in an 11th consecutive match when second-placed Manchester United face top-of-the-table Leicester at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.
The 28-year-old equalled former Manchester United star Ruud van Nistelrooy’s 10-game scoring record, set 12 years ago, in last week’s 3-0 win over Newcastle United.
Vardy, who was playing non-league football just a few years ago, has found himself increasingly in the spotlight as his record chase gathered pace and Ranieri claims his player has quickly learnt to love the attention.
“I think it’s good Jamie has this — maybe all his team-mates will try to help him. But the main idea is the team. After there is Jamie, there is me and everybody — the team,” Ranieri said.
“I hope for him and the fans he gets the record but sooner or later someone will break the record. I hope for Jamie he does it.
“He’s the same this week. We have a very good spirit, we know on Saturday there will be a very good challenger for us. It’s great for us to improve.”
Vardy’s meteoric rise has encouraged the striker to launch a new academy to find the next generation of players who can make the giant leap from non-league football to the top tier.
Vardy is the Premier League’s top scorer this season with 13 goals, but the glamour of his current fame is a far cry from the days when he plied his trade in the semi-professional ranks with Fleetwood, Stocksbridge Park Steels and Halifax.
Announcing his V9 Academy, Vardy said he hopes to discover talent in non-league and stop players drifting away from the professional game if they get released by league clubs as youngsters.
“I know there are players out there in a similar position to where I was that just need an opportunity,” he said.
“More and more players are dropping out of the system early. For me, it was at Sheffield Wednesday when I was 16 because they thought I was too small. I remember how that felt and it’s difficult to come back from or even think about the professional game.
“I’ve thought for some time that something could be done about it and after several conversations with my agent and my fiancee, Becky, we decided to set up V9 to unearth talent and give those players a shot — hopefully at earning professional contracts but also to learn what it takes to be a professional at the highest level.”