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Remembering the Day Jamie Vardy Became a Superstar |

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21 September, 2014. 

Leicester City 5-3 Manchester United. 

This was not supposed to happen. 

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Long before great escapes, Premier League titles and Champions League campaigns had been toasted at the King Power Stadium, Leicester were simply trying to tread water in their first season back in the top flight for a decade. 

And this was Manchester United. Admittedly it was a post-Sir Alex Ferguson Manchester United but still… it was MANCHESTER UNITED.

One of the most dramatic upsets in ​Premier League history seemed unfathomable when a sublime Angel Di Maria chip made it 2-0 to the visitors in the 16th minute. 

Even if Leonardo Ulloa’s header seconds later had given the Foxes a spark of hope, Ander Herrera’s fortunate finish extinguish it just before the hour mark. And then… Jamie Vardy happened. 

It all started – as it so often does – with Vardy chasing down a lost cause. Hunting Rafael all the way down to his own byline the future record breaker shrugged off the defender before being brought down to win Leicester a penalty – which David Nugent leathered home. 

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Two minutes later, the hosts had their equaliser. 

As if by divine intervention the ball sat up kindly for Esteban Cambiasso to swing a left boot at it hopefully. Cambiasso rumoured arrival in the summer had been dismissed on Leicester message boards as an elaborate joke too farcical and brilliant to actually be true. 

Fans could scarcely believe their eyes once again as the Argentine’s effort squeezed past David de Gea in the United goal to make it 3-3. 

The goal was greeted by a sonic eruption around King Power Stadium but that was nothing compared to the noise when Vardy grabbed a goal of his own ten minutes from time. 

With Juan Mata caught in possession by Ritchie de Laet, the former United youth player exploded down the right flank before sliding it to Leicester’s number nine, who had peeled off his marker expertly. 

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With only De Gea to beat, Vardy could have been forgiven for feeling a little nervous – what with this being his chance for a first ever Premier League goal. If he was, he didn’t show it – slotting it past the best goalkeeper in the world with the same confidence he had exhibited when dominating the Northern League with Stocksbridge Park Steels several years earlier. 

4-3 would have been more than enough to send the Filbert Way faithful home to enjoy one of the most euphoric Sunday roasts of their lives, but Vardy was not content and made his fans’ potatoes taste even sweeter by creating a fifth goal.

After shrugging off the lumbering Tyler Blackett, he raced into the box before Blackett hacked him to the ground – earning himself a red card and gifting Leicester another penalty. With Nugent sat on the bench, Ulloa rose to the task and belted home from 12-yards to put the gloss on one of the best days in Leicester’s recent history.

​It’s a travesty that in the midst of all the other madness that transpired at King Power Stadium that autumn day, the true beauty of Angel Di Maria’s goal has been overlooked.

Charging past a string of players and into the Leicester half, the Argentine played a quick one-two with Wayne Rooney before finishing in the most audacious way possible.

With Kasper Schmeichel a yard or so off his line, Di Maria managed to scoop the ball over the Dane while still on the move. The undoubted highlight of his largely underwhelming United career.

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​His incredible performance – one goal and four assists – against United gave a brief glimpse into the heights that Jamie Vardy’s career would reach. 

The Englishman’s inaugural Premier League strike has been replicated countless times in subsequent seasons, and he now stands just one goal shy of entering the illustrious top flight hundred club. 

Thank god he got rid of that bloody mohawk though. 

United centre-back Tyler Blackett did not cover himself in glory against Leicester and it will come as no surprise that he dropped down to the Championship with Reading in 2016 – where he continues to frighten fans with some questionable decision making. 

Dean Hammond – who was part of Leicester’s midfield three – currently turns out for Worthing in the Isthmian League. Well, he did until recently for obvious reasons. 

Ritchie de Laet who assisted Leicester’s fourth goal in currently back in his native Belgium, while Paul Konchesky has now retired – enjoying a final pay day at Billericay Town a few years ago.

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An unused substitute for the Foxes that day was Riyad Mahrez. Wonder whatever happened to him?

​After this victory, Leicester’s season went into a tailspin as they failed to win any of their subsequent 13 games.​ 

Similar patchy form haunted them for the rest of the season – until seven wins out of their last nine secured a scarcely believable great escape. They didn’t do half bad the following season either… 

United, on the other hand, recorded a fairly comfortable fourth placed finish – a marked improvement on their disastrous 2013/2014 campaign when they came seventh. 

For more from ​Matt O’Connor-Simpson, follow him on ​Twitter!

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EPL

Cody Gakpo reflects on first month at Liverpool

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Liverpool forward Cody Gakpo has opened up on his first month on the books at Anfield, admitting he is still getting used to Jurgen Klopp’s tactics.

The Dutchman was wanted by a number of elite sides, with Manchester United expected to win the race for his signature, but it was Liverpool who snuck in and agreed to pay an initial £35m to bring Gakpo to England.

The 23-year-old, who made his name as a left winger but has spent time as a striker at Liverpool, is yet to score after four appearances for his new side, but he told club media that is it just a matter of getting to grips with his new surroundings

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“My feeling, personally, is everyone in the team has so much quality,” he said. “That is what I see in training and in phases in the games.

“It is also a part of football, that sometimes things don’t work out exactly the way you want them to. We just have to keep improving, working hard, and the quality will come out. Then, you’re going to see the real Liverpool.”

He continued: “From a football perspective, it’s a new environment on the pitch, with new players and a new team. I can tell it’s a really great group. Every day I am looking forward to working with them, to train hard and to play the games. I am trying to adapt as quickly as possible, to improve every day and in the end show the best version of myself.

“Off the pitch, to be honest, I haven’t been in the city so many times yet. Most of the time I have been in the hotel. I am moving this week, actually. That’s also something I’m looking forward to.”

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Listen now as Scott Saunders hosts Graeme Bailey and Toby Cudworth to discuss the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more!

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

Gakpo also confessed that he is still trying to adapt to his new role in Liverpool’s team.

“It is a little bit different to what I’m used to,” the Dutchman admitted. “Normally, I have played on the left for almost the past three years.

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“It’s something I can improve, playing in the striker role, and I want to show my quality there. It’s a great position and playing there makes me more complete as a technical player.





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Fulham launch bid Fluminense midfielder Andre

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Fulham have made a bid to sign Fluminense midfielder Andre, 90min understands.

The 21-year-old has quickly established himself as one of Fluminense’s top players and a number of sides across Europe have expressed an interest in luring him away from his homeland in 2023.

Sources have confirmed to 90min that Fulham have approached Fluminense to try and thrash out a deal, but the Brazilian side are reluctant to part ways with their star player during the 2023 campaign.

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Andre, who has been linked with the likes of Barcelona and Liverpool, has spoken out about the interest and insisted his focus remains solely on his current employers.

“Obviously, I’m focused and very happy,” Andre said recently. “I just renewed my contract until 2026.

“It’s normal to get offers, but I’m focused here on Fluminense and having an excellent season.”

Listen now as Scott Saunders hosts Graeme Bailey and Toby Cudworth to discuss the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more!

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If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

Andre’s agent, Carlos Leite, also took to Instagram to confirm that the 21-year-old had agreed to remain with Fluminense until the end of the current campaign, which runs over the entire calendar year.

“Thanks to the great work carried out, Andre entered the radars of some of the biggest European clubs and, with that, he has received several enquiries and some official proposals,” Leite wrote.

“However, the player and Fluminense, through president Mario Bittencourt, sealed an agreement for the midfielder to remain at the club at this time, with all the dedication and commitment, always seeking the best for Fluminense in all competitions.”

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Sporting CP manager makes Pedro Porro admission as Tottenham talks continue

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Sporting CP manager Ruben Amorim has warned Tottenham that he will not take right-back Pedro Porro out of his starting lineup until a transfer has been 100% agreed.

90min understands Tottenham are confident they will get a deal over the line for the 23-year-old eventually, but Sporting’s reluctance to budge from their asking price of Porro’s €45m release clause has led to some lengthy negotiations which are not yet over.

And while Porro is still contracted to Sporting, Amorim will not hesitate to use the right-back and risk an injury which could see the entire move collapse.

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“Porro does not leave before the game,” Amorim said ahead of Saturday’s Allianz Cup final against Porto. “Clubs have to come first, and as far as I know, a player who is able to play and is signed up by a club, he has to go to games.

“I realise that [negotiations] involve a lot of players’ minds, but the indication I have is that Porro is fit, and the most important thing for me, as a manager, is that if he wasn’t there, there would be someone else. The game cannot be played with just one player. Porro is fit. Whatever has to happen will happen, we are prepared for all scenarios.”

Listen now as Scott Saunders hosts Graeme Bailey and Toby Cudworth to discuss the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more!

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

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Amorim continued: “Is this Porro’s last game at the club? I don’t know. There are a few days left until February 1, then everyone will know if Porro stays or leaves.

“Porro hasn’t left yet. We are scouting, but not everything is easy, you’re in a real hurry to send Porro away!”

Spurs have repeatedly tried to lower Sporting’s asking price for Porro by including at least one player in the deal, but the Portuguese side have been clear about their determination to hold out for the right-back’s release clause – in full.





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