The Hollywood trail has gone somewhat dead on “Fearless”, the Jamie Vardy biopic that was mooted a couple of years back. At one point, Meghan Markle, HRH Prince Harry’s bride-to-be, was being touted for the role of Rebekah, Jamie’s good lady wife.
The tale of a Sheffield tearaway who pulled himself from wearing an electronic tag and earning £30 a week in a factory to become the talisman of the most amazing achievement in British football history is now, at best, on the back-burner.
Perhaps what then followed the magical realism of Leicester City’s 2015-16 Premier League title triumph cooled the movie moguls’ interest. Last season was an understandable anti-climax for Leicester, but the removal of Claudio Ranieri, the Italian uncle whose genius lay within him appearing to have no idea of what was happening, was the type of killing of a good guy that is rarely approved of by Tinseltown tastemakers.
Vardy himself suffered a juddering halt to his real-life fantasy, enduring a pair of two-month goal droughts as the previous unlikely heroes turned into underachieving villains of the piece.
The frustration of making a successful sequel was apparent as early as the first game of Leicester’s title defence, a match lost 2-1 at Hull during which Vardy got so annoyed at the missing of a scoring chance that he punched himself fully in the face. He was no longer having a party, instead beginning a very public crisis of confidence.
A third act, though, is going rather better. At 31, Vardy the late developer who didn’t play a league match until he was 24, and did not score a Premier League goal until he was 27, has quietly returned himself to the status of being one of the best strikers in English football.
Only Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Mohamed Salah have scored more than him in the Premier League, and they all play for the division’s elite clubs.
Saturday’s strike against West Brom was a demonstration of a continuing ability to score spectacular goals as a matter of course. He did not even need to break stride to left-foot volley in a delicate nine-iron fade by Riyad Mahrez and the goal he scored against Tottenham on November 28 was even better, and for him, far sweeter.
That night, Spurs fans had taken to singing none-too complimentary songs about the aforementioned Mrs Vardy, at that time residing in the “I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here” TV jungle.
Seizing on Marc Albrighton’s pass, he launched a flying kick at the ball to guide it home, before aiming his snarling celebrations at an away contingent forced to accept they had to eat their own words. Kicking against the pricks has been a repeated narrative in the Vardy story arc.
When he is at full flight, there is a frenzied beauty to his play.
His legs and arms pound in unison as he hurtles after the ball at a breakneck pace that is yet to desert him, his lean, bony face almost always contorted into a determined grimace as he careers past and through opponents.
He is, of course, by no means everybody’s cup of tea, and the drunken racist abuse of Japanese casino visitor cast something of a shadow over his award-winning achievements of 2015-16, but few could deny that he is an individual of almost unbreakable resolve, someone who rises to the big occasions.
His scoring record against top clubs is match for anyone, having this season become the first player to notch against Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham in a single season.
With the years advancing, it seems the rags to riches story will not end with Vardy progressing from Stocksbridge Park Steels to one of England’s elite clubs. That chance almost certainly came and went when Vardy turned down the chance to join Arsenal in the summer of 2016 to stay and sign an extended, lucrative contract with Leicester.
Instead, he is maturing into the type of local hero that fans used to celebrate in a bygone age, loyal to the club that gave him his chance rather than surfing the transience that football’s global marketplace has effected.
How, then, might he get the “Fearless” film project’s green light to be relit? Leicester’s season has a denouement in sight, that of the FA Cup, a trophy the club has never won, having lost in the final four times, and not featured in the semi-finals since 1982, when Gary Lineker was the club’s centre-forward.
Chelsea are Sunday’s opponents, and will be coming off the back of a trip to Barcelona. They could be ripe for Vardy to continue writing his own scripts.