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There was a time when a player’s best days were supposedly behind them once their 20s ended. Tell that to Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, who turned 35 years of age in January and made more history on Tuesday, when he became the player with most Premier League goals after his 30th birthday.
Plenty of supposed “veterans” are bucking the trend and maintaining high levels well into their mid-30s and Vardy is a great example of this “late peak” career trajectory, having only made the move into professional football in his mid-20s and not made his top-flight debut for Leicester until August 2014, age 27 years and 232 days.
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The evergreen striker quickly made up for lost time, firing the Foxes to a famous league title in 2015-16 and then winning the Premier League Golden Boot in 2019-20, the same season he also joined the illustrious “100 Club” at the age of 33.
Vardy was the 29th member to join a club that also includes Ian Wright. The Arsenal great is the only other centurion to have made his top-flight debut later in his career; as a 26-year-old, he helped Crystal Palace achieve promotion in 1989 before he joined the Gunners two years later.
Indeed, it was Wright’s long-standing record that Vardy broke on Tuesday, when he scored Leicester’s second in a win at Burnley.
The former England international has scored a frankly phenomenal 94 top-flight goals since entering his fourth decade, more than any other player since the league was inaugurated in 1992-93.
Top Premier League goal scorers after turning 30
Jamie Vardy (Leicester): 94
Ian Wright (Arsenal, West Ham United): 93
Alan Shearer (Newcastle United): 84
Frank Lampard (Chelsea, Manchester City): 82
Teddy Sheringham (Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Portsmouth, West Ham): 77
Gianfranco Zola (Chelsea): 59
Peter Beardsley (Everton, Newcastle, Bolton Wanderers): 58
Didier Drogba (Chelsea): 57
Les Ferdinand (Newcastle, Tottenham, West Ham, Leicester, Bolton): 57
Paolo Di Canio (Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham, Charlton Athletic): 54
To put Vardy’s achievement into further context, the next highest active player on the list is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored 36 goals for Arsenal after he turned 30 in June 2019. That might be as many as he gets, though, given he joined Barcelona in February, where he has already scored four LaLiga goals.
As ever, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have the last words when it comes to scoring: Messi has scored 127 league goals since entering his 30s in June 2017, while Ronaldo has scored an amazing 196 since his 30th on Feb. 5, 2015.
Vardy’s achievement, though further cements his status as one of the Premier League’s great goal scorers. If further proof is needed, here are 10 examples:
Vardy’s Top 10 Premier League goals
1. The First (vs. Manchester United, September 2014)
It took a 27-year-old Vardy all of three games to open his Premier League account by scoring Leicester’s fourth goal in a dramatic 5-3 win against United. The Red Devils were actually winning 3-1 with an hour played, only for the Foxes rattle in four late goals in the space of just 25 second-half minutes to pilfer the win.
2. The Solo Special (vs. West Bromwich Albion, April 2015)
Wrestling back possession five yards into the Baggies’ half, Vardy proceeded to charge through an entire half of the pitch before arrowing a low finish past the goalkeeper. The goal also secured a vital 3-2 win in injury time as the Foxes continued to fight against relegation, who went into the game bottom of the league with just seven games left. Leicester eventually stayed up (quite comfortably in the end) and the next season they won the league.
3. The Streak: Scoring in 11 Premier League games in a row (vs. Manchester United, November 2015)
“It’s 11, it’s HEAVEN for Jamie Vardy!” 😇
13. The record-breaking @Vardy7 📜
— Leicester City (@LCFC) March 18, 2020
After hitting a brilliant vein of form early in Leicester’s title-winning charge, Vardy broke new Premier League ground by scoring 13 goals in 11 consecutive games in a single season — a streak that has never been bettered before or since. The record-breaking goal came 24 minutes into game No. 11, the opener in a 1-1 draw at the King Power stadium.
4. The Screamer (vs. Liverpool, February 2016)
Undoubtedly the most spectacular goal Vardy has scored came against Liverpool, when the Leicester striker latched onto a long ball over the top and let rip with a first-time thunderbolt from outside the area. The table-topping Foxes went on to win 2-0 at the King Power with Vardy scoring both goals, the first being so good that a local brewery even named a new beer after it.
5. The First Hat Trick (vs. Manchester City, December 2016)
Continuing his impeccable record against the so-called “Big Six,” Vardy scored his first-ever Premier League hat trick in a stunning 4-2 victory over Pep Guardiola’s City. Keep an eye out for Vardy’s second goal, which features a beautifully cushioned assist from Riyad Mahrez — an excellent illustration of the pair’s telepathic partnership at its very best.
6. The Lob (vs. Tottenham, November 2017)
A darting run behind the Spurs defence leads to a craftily clever and deliciously deft lobbed finish over the head of a bamboozled Hugo Lloris.
7. Goal No. 50 (vs. Manchester United, December 2017)
Regularly proving a thorn in United’s side, Vardy once again found the net against the Red Devils in a 2-2 draw at the King Power. Aged 30 at the time, this was the striker’s 50th Premier League goal and made him the first ever Foxes player to reach that tally, doing so in just 124 top-flight games.
8. Over The Shoulder (vs. West Brom, March 2018)
This Route One ball over the top, finished with a silky over-the-shoulder volley into the far bottom corner, was named Premier League Goal of the Month.
9. The Vardy Approach (vs. Bournemouth, August 2019)
Using the tried-and-tested formula that has served him well over the years, here Vardy scampers on to a lofted through-ball and lifts a trademark lob over the advancing goalkeeper.
10. Welcome To The 100 Club (vs. Crystal Palace, July 2020)
Premier League goals No. 100 and 101 for Vardy were scored in a comprehensive 3-0 win over Palace; the first a simple tap-in and the second an impudent chip.