Leicester City hero Jamie Vardy is happy to play through the pain barrier when he goes in search of another record-breaking goal at Swansea City next Saturday.
The England striker became the first player to score in 11 consecutive Premier League matches – beating Ruud van Nistelrooy’s 12-year-old record – when he fired the opening goal in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Manchester United.
Despite going into the weekend with a hip injury and sustaining a knock to the left foot during the match, Vardy caused United problems all evening and deserved his 14th goal of the season.
And nothing, it seems, will stop him taking to the field at Swansea as he looks to become the first player to score in 12 consecutive top-flight games since Jimmy Dunne did so for Sheffield United in 1932.
“I think it’s common knowledge now that I’m getting an injury every week,” said Vardy, who has been wearing a cast since breaking two bones in his right wrist in October.
“But I never want to not play. I want to play as many games as I can and help the team out.”
Such an attitude is a blessing for Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri.
“During the match I said to him ‘are you okay? do you want to come off?’ because I saw him a little tired,” the Italian said. “He said ‘no, no, no, I am good’.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp last week said Daniel Sturridge had to “learn what is serious pain and what is only pain” after his striker pulled out of their match against Bordeaux after fearing he had a foot injury. Scans showed there was no damage.
Vardy, on the other hand, has been playing with knocks all his career.
When discussing his rise from non-league to Premier League record holder, Vardy was reminded that this weekend four years ago he scored the equaliser for Fleetwood at Gateshead in front of just 768 people.
“I was injured that day as well,” Vardy said with a smile. “I was suffering with a foot injury, so it’s turned full circle!
“That’s how it is. I know I’m going to get injured at times. It’s the way I play and, if I have to play through it sometimes, that’s what I’ll do.
“I took a little knock on the top of my foot (against United), but I’ve had it iced and I’m sure it will be fine by next week.”
Vardy admitted it felt “unbelievable” to break Van Nistelrooy’s record, but to those watching at the King Power Stadium the opener came as little surprise.
The striker’s confidence is so high that when he charged through the United defence to pick up Christian Fuchs’ pass on the counter, there was only ever going to be one outcome.
Leicester presented him with a ‘Vardy 11’ shirt after the match, which was signed by the players and manager Ranieri.
Congratulations from Man Utd stars
Every United player congratulated Vardy on his record-breaking achievement, too, including David de Gea, with whom he had a spat during the match over a late challenge.
“Every single one of their players has done that, so that’s credit to them,” Vardy said. “That’s class.”
Van Nistelrooy’s congratulatory tweet – “you’re number one now and you deserved it” – also delighted Vardy.
“I’ve just been shown a tweet where he’s congratulated me, fair play to him,” he said.
“I’m sure it will pop up on my Twitter feed when I look at my phone (on Sunday) because I don’t really want to today, it will just be going off and off and off.”
Chris Smalling, who like Vardy has played non-league football, thinks clubs should start looking further down the pyramid for “hidden gems” like the Leicester striker.
“I think they should, especially when you consider how much money players cost to bring in to clubs,” the Manchester United defender, who played for Maidstone United, said.
“I think if you can find some sort of hidden gems in the local sides or non-league sides, it’s a no-brainer.
“You will see them have a little bit more of a wider look in the non-league region because of Jamie’s success.”