Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy has been voted Footballer of the Year by the Football Writers’ Association (FWA).
The 29-year-old has scored 22 league goals to help fire his team from 5,000-1 outsiders to odds-on favourites to win the Premier League title for the first time this season.
Vardy, who built his career away from the spotlight at Stocksbridge, Halifax and Fleetwood Town, became the first player to score in 11 consecutive Premier League matches earlier this season.
“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.
“And 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.”
Vardy, who won 36 percent of the vote, is the first Englishman to win the award since Scott Parker in 2011 and the first Leicester player to win it since it was started in 1948.
In winning the award, he beat team mates Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante, who finished second and third, while Danny Drinkwater, Kasper Schmeichel, Wes Morgan and Danny Simpson were the other Leicester players who received votes.
“It is testament to their all-round excellence that so many Leicester players polled votes from our members,” Dunn added.
Leicester, who lead the division by eight points ahead of second-placed Tottenham Hotspur, need two points from their last two games to lift the title and could be crowned champions if Spurs fail to beat Chelsea on Monday night.
Vardy, who was suspended for Leicester’s last two games, will return to the side for their home match against Everton next Saturday.