Jamie Vardy could be forgiven for having other things on his mind than just playing for England while at the European Championship in France.
Fresh off inspiring Leicester to the Premier League’s most improbable title triumph, Vardy got married two weeks before Euro 2016 began. About that time, he was the subject of a high-profile transfer offer from Arsenal that he’s yet to make a decision on, at least publicly.
Then, at England’s first match against Russia, Vardy’s wife _ Rebekah _ tweeted that she got caught up in the violent scenes outside the ground that marred the game in Marseille.
It seems he’s coping with all the distractions just fine.
Vardy got his first taste of action at Euro 2016 as a halftime substitute against Wales in England’s second game, and made a quick impact by scoring within 11 minutes of coming on.
Now he could start against Slovakia on Monday as England looks for a win to clinch first place in Group B.
“It’s easy. We’re here for England,” Vardy said when asked how he was coping with all the commotion in his life, including the potential move to Arsenal for a reported 20 million pounds ($28.7 million). “There is only one thing you want to do and that is to play football to the best of your ability.
“If you let things start distracting you, then you’re not going to be able to do that, which will then jeopardize the team as well. So everything gets completely blanked out except for England, England, England.”
Vardy would not divulge any news about his club situation _ “nothing at all,” he said, “I’m completely focusing on England” but did say he was contacted by Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri after his goal against Wales.
“He messaged me a few days ago and said, `Congratulations champ,”’ Vardy said.
Vardy has arguably been the talk of an otherwise calm England camp so far in France. Aside from the goal against Wales and the constant speculation over his club future, he was spotted using nicotine pouches and drinking Red Bull before a training session.
“(The team doctors) are fine with them,” Vardy said. “There’s nothing wrong with them. They are more than happy I’m on them.”
What does matter to Vardy is what happens between the white lines. England coach Roy Hodgson has to decide whether to keep playing Harry Kane or start with Vardy and/or Daniel Sturridge against Slovakia.
Asked if he can understand why Hodgson might want to keep Vardy as a so-called “impact sub,” the quick striker said: “I can see the logic definitely, when players are getting tired it is probably easier to exploit, but I am happy either way.
“I think it is tough for (Hodgson). But competition for places is good for the squad itself.”
Vardy says he is playing with “two big cracks” in his wrist that will require an operation after Euro 2016 and will keep him out for three weeks. He has been wearing a cast in games.
“I did it playing against (Aston) Villa at the start of the season,” he said, “that’s how long it’s been fractured.”
So remarkable has been the rise from obscurity of Vardy, who was playing non-league soccer four years ago and finished this season’s Premier League with 24 goals and England’s Footballer of the Year award, that he says he’s “always pinching myself.”
He wants England to take Leicester’s mentality of being fearless into games at Euro 2016.
“There’s no point being afraid of teams,” Vardy said. “You’ve just got to go out there with the mindset that whoever you’re up against, you can beat them. Anyone’s beatable, it’s as simple as that.”
That may mean there’s room for one final success story in his perfect season.
“Let’s just hope that that travelator keeps on going up,” he said.