Jamie Vardy might be thirsty, but only for Boddingtons. He’s doesn’t show out for the Gram or cosign any of the fuckery that so many pro athletes find irresistible. He stays low (don’t you know Bad Boys move in silence and violence?), and real respect real. Which is why Luis Suarez sought him out when Leicester City played Barcelona earlier this year.
Vardy revealed in an interview to the Times magazine that he didn’t want ask any of Barcelona’s players to swap jerseys because he knew his teammates would be hounding the Messis, Neymars, and Suarezs for their famous jerseys. Act like you been around a boss before.
When we played Barcelona pre-season, I knew the lads would all be trying to get a shirt, so I weren’t gonna ask anyone.
Then, coming in at half-time, Luis Suarez asked if he could have mine.
Vardy and Suarez have a lot in common. They’re both several standard deviations away from what we expect of world-class footballers. The media would have you believe Suarez is a bipolar cannibal maniac and Vardy a drunk hooligan who works in a factory.
In reality, they were the first and second leading scorers in La Liga and the Premier League, respectively, last year. Suarez hasn’t bitten anyone in years and Vardy’s been gainfully employed as a footballer since at least 2010.
When you’ve been the subject of intense scrutiny from all angles like these two have, you gain a new perspective. I’ve only dealt with mild haters in my life, not the industrial strength hate they’ve been faced with, but the response is the same: “fuck ’em.”
A lot of shade has been thrown their way. People were calling for Suarez’s head when he kept accidentally biting all those people. “He’s a disgrace, he should be banned for life.”
But he fought teeth and nail to restore his reputation and now he’s universally regarded as one of the best players on the planet. All that extra shit is a footnote.
Vardy’s rise to the top has been more acute, but he hasn’t been without his detractors. Despite the fact that he’s been (mostly) a model citizen of late, people still find ways to make his behavior fit their narrative of crass drunk idiot.
No, Jamie Vardy and Luis Suarez aren’t perfect. But they’re damn good footballers, and no one (outside of the English government) wants to watch a bunch of schoolboys run around anyway.
The grit and imperfections are what make the beautiful game beautiful. Anyone who’s played in the cold and rain on a shitty pitch has a deep appreciation for a manicured field on a sunny afternoon.
Think of soccer like Carlos Tevez’s neck or Franck Ribery’s face: unique, asymmetrical, imperfect, but utterly captivating.