Euro 2016: England saviour Jamie Vardy on his energy drink diet

Jamie Vardy wheels away in celebration after drawing England level against Wales in the crucial Group B match at Euro 2016
Jamie Vardy wheels away in celebration after drawing England level against Wales in the crucial Group B match at Euro 2016
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As a late bloomer in international football Jamie Vardy knows how to get the best out of himself, even if that means avoiding the gym and perking up with energy drinks.

Having been an unused substitute in England’s Euro 2016 opener against Russia, the Leicester striker made his mark on the competition in style against Wales.

Coming on at 1-0 down, he drew England level with just his third touch in tournament football, then played a key part in setting up Daniel Sturridge’s stoppage-time winner.

That was just the latest chapter in Vardy’s remarkable rise, having gone from non-league football with Stocksbridge Park Steels and FC Halifax Town, to the Champions League in five whirlwind years.

The 29-year-old from Sheffield has surely done enough to make Roy Hodgson’s starting XI against Slovakia on Monday, but he retains a certain outsider quality befitting of a character whose formative years were spent outside the top-tier academy set-up.

He was pictured last week clutching a can of Red Bull and a tin of nicotine pouches before training, and happily admits he has no interest pumping iron.

“If I go in the gym it will slow me down,” he said after his decisive cameo in Lens.

“I don’t go in for weights or anything like that. People have tried (to persuade him) and not succeeded.

“Each and every person is different and this is my way.

“I’m sure if someone else tried doing what I do then it probably wouldn’t work for them.”

Asked to recall the last time he lifted a weight, Vardy grinned and said: “Probably that can of Red Bull the other day.”

His choice of pick-me-up might have raised some eyebrows but such mild stimulants are not prohobited and, in any case, not a staple of his daily routine.

“They’ve been checked with the medical team and there’s nothing wrong with them,” explained Vardy.

“I wouldn’t call it a diet, the Red Bull was just to wake me up in the morning.

“It’s not a regular thing whereby I have one every morning. It’s just something I felt I needed that day.”

Vardy’s unconventional ways have not gone unnoticed by his team-mates, but neither has his ability to turn a game and unnerve opponents.

Adam Lallana, speaking about his Three Lions team-mate, said: “I think everyone is unique in different ways.

“Everyone has their little traits they do, in the gym or what they do off the pitch or before a game – but Vards is Vards, he is a defender’s nightmare.

“He is always in the box and he scored a very important goal for us against Wales.”

That goal, and his general pestering of a tiring Welsh defence, will not have escaped the attention of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

The Frenchman attempted to wrap up a surprise deal for Vardy just prior the tournament but is now waiting for his involvement to end before discussions continue.

And despite having a once-in-a-career move on the table, Vardy’s focus is not wavering from the task at hand.

“It’s been easy (to shut that out),” he said.

“I’m here to concentrate and focus on England and that’s all I’m going to be doing and now we’ll just get back on that training field and focus on the next match.”

Vardy’s fellow game-changing substitute Sturridge, meanwhile, is closing in on peak condition according to his Liverpool team-mate Lallana.

Sturridge came off the bench to decisive effect against Wales, crossing cleverly to tee-up Vardy before sealing victory with a neat injury-time finish.

As he celebrated in the corner with his trademark dance moves it was not only the culmination of a thrilling comeback but also proof that he can be a crucial player at Euro 2016.

Only weeks ago his very place in the squad looked vulnerable, with a calf injury ruling him out of a friendly audition against Australia.

But manager Roy Hodgson brought Sturridge to France as one of five strikers and Lallana thinks the 26-year-old is finally ready to put two seasons of fitness problems behind him.

“It’s difficult for anyone when you have faced a lot of injuries but that was the fittest I have seen him for a while, even including towards the back end of the season for Liverpool,” said Lallana.

“He just seems to be getting fitter and fitter and he was looking very dangerous against Wales which is great for us.

“He had a couple of sighters and sometimes you think we could be more patient and play the extra pass but he doesn’t need too many chances before he gets his name on the scoresheet.

“He showed what a vital player he is for us.”