LONDON • Whether they get their hands on the English Premier League trophy or not, Leicester players are already sweeping the individual accolades this year.
Striker Jamie Vardy has been voted Player of the Year by the Football Writers' Association (FWA) in the latest chapter of his fairytale ride from minor-league journeyman to international striker.
The 29-year-old, who built his career at minor-league clubs like Stocksbridge, Halifax Town and Fleetwood Town, has notched 22 goals this season to help fire Leicester from 5,000-1 outsiders to odds-on favourites to win the Premier League title.
Vardy, who also became the first man to score in 11 straight Premier League matches, is the first Englishman to collect the FWA honour since Scott Parker in 2011, and the first Leicester player to win it in the award's 68-year history.
"It's a great honour to win such a prestigious award and to have my name added to a list of previous winners that includes some unbelievable players," Vardy said yesterday. "Thank you to the Football Writers' Association and to everyone that voted.
Percentage of votes for Jamie Vardy in his Football Writers' Association win
First Leicester player honoured in the award's 68-year history
Last Englishman to win the award: Scott Parker
"Thank you also to my team-mates who are the reason I've been able to achieve anything. It's been an amazing season for all of us at Leicester, based on teamwork, not individuals.
"Thanks also to the manager (Claudio Ranieri), all the staff and the fans for their support."
The England forward won 36 per cent of the votes, beating teammates Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kante who finished second and third. Danny Drinkwater, Kasper Schmeichel, Wes Morgan and Danny Simpson also received votes from the 290 journalists polled.
"The Jamie Vardy story clearly captured the imagination of so many writers," FWA chairman Andy Dunn told Reuters.
"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."
There was more good news for the Foxes yesterday, as Drinkwater escaped an extended ban, after he reacted angrily to being sent off in the 1-1 draw at Manchester United on Sunday.
Drinkwater is automatically suspended for Saturday's Premier League clash with Everton, but faces no further action because the incident was not mentioned in referee Michael Oliver's report.
Despite the Old Trafford draw preventing the Foxes being confirmed as Premier League champions on Sunday, their fans - both in Leicester and around the world - swiftly shook off any sense of disappointment.
About 900 jubilant fans and employees roared at the final whistle in front of a giant outdoor screen erected in front of the glitzy Bangkok headquarters of King Power, the duty-free franchise of tycoon Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha who bought Leicester in 2010.
King Power laid on food and beer for the fans watching the match and many more outside.
"This is a golden point," said Wanchai Supan, a Leicester fan and local radio presenter sporting a Foxes headband with Thai script and symbols written by the Buddhist monks who blessed the club. "We will win the title for sure."
Leicester will seal the title if Tottenham fail to win at Chelsea in last night's late match.
While midfielder Marc Albrighton said he and his team-mates will put themselves through the agony of watching the match, manager Ranieri will be flying back from Italy, having visited his 96-year-old mother, Renata, for lunch.
The Italian admitted he will be "the last man to know the result".
If Spurs do beat their London rivals, the Foxes will get the chance to be crowned champions in front of their own fans at the King Power Stadium by defeating Everton on Saturday.
REUTERS, AGENGE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN