Writers pick Leicester's Vardy as player of year

LONDON: Leicester City's Jamie Vardy has been voted Player of the Year by the Football Writers' Association (FWA) in the latest twist to his fairytale ride from minor-league journeyman to international striker.

The 29-year-old, who built his career at clubs like Stocksbridge, Halifax Town and Fleetwood Town, has notched 22 goals this season to help fire Leicester from 5,000-1 outsiders to odds-on favourites to win the Premier League title.

Vardy, who also became the first man to score in 11 successive Premier League matches, is the first Englishman to collect the FWA honour since Scott Parker in 2011, and the first Leicester player to win it in the award's 68-year history.

"It's a great honour to win such a prestigious award and to have my name added to a list of previous winners that includes some unbelievable players. Thank you to the Football Writers' Association and to everyone that voted," Vardy said on Monday.

"Thank you also to my team mates who are the reason I've been able to achieve anything. It's been an amazing season for all of us at Leicester, based on team work not individuals.

"Thanks also to the manager (Claudio Ranieri), all the staff and the fans for their support."

England forward Vardy won 36 percent of the votes, beating team mates Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kante who finished second and third.

"The Jamie Vardy story clearly captured the imagination of so many writers," FWA chairman Andy Dunn told Reuters.

"His record-breaking feat of scoring in 11 consecutive matches is the jewel in what will surely be Leicester City's Premier League crown.

"The Footballer of the Year award is not just a reflection of his fantastic season but recognition of a remarkable journey from non-league to the international stage," said Dunn.

Vardy's Leicester team mates Danny Drinkwater, Kasper Schmeichel, Wes Morgan and Danny Simpson also received votes from the 290 journalists polled.

"It is testament to their all-round excellence that so many Leicester players polled votes," Dunn added.

Ranieri's men have an eight-point lead over second-placed Tottenham Hotspur and will be crowned champions if Spurs fail to win at Chelsea later on Monday.

Vardy, who was suspended for Leicester's previous two games, will return for their home match against Everton on Saturday.