All clubs have missed out on top players in the past, but Jamie Vardy’s success leaves a bitter taste in Preston’s mouth.
Vardy scored two more goals on Sunday, helping Leicester City beat Aston Villa 4-1. That’s the eighth game in a row that Vardy has scored in, meaning he’s now closing in on his own Premier League record of 11 consecutive games with a goal.
The striker may now be approaching 33, but he’s not slowing down. He’s hit 16 goals in 17 games this season, making him the Premier League’s top goalscorer, and his record with Leicester is hugely impressive.
Vardy has smashed 123 goals in 287 games for the Foxes, justifying their bold decision to pay £1million for him in 2012. It’s therefore even more incredible that Preston wouldn’t pay a fraction of that price just a year earlier.
It’s a story told a million times by Preston fans cursing their luck, but Vardy could have been a North End player. Back in 2011, following the club’s relegation to League One, Phil Brown told Sky Sports that he was keen to sign Vardy.
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At the time, Vardy was in non-league football with Halifax Town. 25 goals in the 2010-11 season put Vardy on Preston’s radar, with Brown keen. Adding him to Iain Hume, Neil Mellor and Jamie Proctor would have given Preston a dangerous attack for League One, with Vardy’s pace massively appealing.
Sadly, North End wouldn’t pay around £100,000 to sign Vardy, so he went to Fleetwood Town instead. Preston signed Juvhel Tsoumou on a free transfer instead of Vardy, and he lasted just a year at Deepdale.
Being beaten to a signing by a non-league side wasn’t great at the time, and looks even worse with hindsight. Vardy spent just one year with Fleetwood, as Leicester snapped him up following a 34-goal campaign to put him on a path to stardom.
Since then, Vardy has become a Premier League star, a title winner, an England international and one of the most recognisable names in English football. Vardy now earns £140,000-a-week according to Spotrac, which is more than Preston would have had to pay to sign him eight-and-a-half years ago.
Every time Vardy makes headlines, we’re left to rue North End’s decision not to sign Vardy. Many blame former chairman Maurice Lindsay for that decision, though we may never truly know just why Preston missed out on signing Vardy back in 2011.
His success continues to embarrass North End though, and it doesn’t look like ending any time soon. Of all the transfer mistakes Preston have made this decade, Vardy sticks out as the biggest one.