Fleetwood Town chairman Andy Pilley believes Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy is an inspiration for all non-league players following his incredible rise to prominence.
Vardy helped Fleetwood from the Conference Premier to the Football League during his time at the club and has since gone on to become a full England international and a Premier League sensation at Leicester.
The 28-year-old recently broke Ruud van Nistelrooy's record by scoring in 11 consecutive Premier League matches and Pilley has nothing but fond memories of the striker.
"I was absolutely thrilled, I really was, we're so proud of him. I've seen lots of football movies and they're fantasy. This is a true story and who's to say the journey's complete yet? I think what he's achieved is nothing short of remarkable. It's extraordinary, it's a real rag to riches tale and I think it would be well-received globally," Pilley told Omnisport.
"I think it should motivate all non-league players or young players or players who have been rejected by the club that they've featured for in the academy. It shows that dreams do come true in football and the future's what you make it. Vardy's not felt sorry for himself, he's buckled down, he's screwed the nut and he's a real life Roy of the Rovers.
"I think he's very confident, great self-belief. We knew he was good, but we didn't realise how exceptional he was. That soon became apparent as soon as the second game, he might have scored a hat-trick actually. He is a fantastic player who changed this club forever. He played a huge part in getting us into the football league and the difference between being in the league and non-league is night and day. Without Jamie, it's questionable whether we would have achieved that or not."
Vardy's success in recent years has not come as a surprise to Pilley and the Fleetwood chairman even claimed the attacker is ready to test himself at a Champions League club.
"I thought he'd be a Premier League player. We thought he could play for his country, which is why we put a clause in his contract, we really thought he was that good. But I did not expect him to break Van Nistelrooy's record. We knew he was a brilliant, brilliant player but what he's achieved is exceptional.
"I think what Jamie's done in the game now, I think he deserves the opportunity to pit his wits in the Champions League and I think he's worthy of playing for one of the top three or four clubs in England and also playing for his national team. So I'd love to see him get his chance to play for one of the really big teams.
"Initially we only had Championship clubs scouting him when Jamie started scoring goals, but eventually when word got out that he was scoring every week the Premier League clubs started having a look then."
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