England striker Jamie Vardy winds up team-mate Harry Maguire

‘It‘s Jamie Vardy from the Vardy Express, how big is the diameter of your head?‘: England striker winds up team-mate Harry Maguire

Jamie Vardy is seemingly destined for a reserve role at the World Cup, but has nevertheless done the most individually to improve press-player relationships during the tournament.

Vardy, the biggest character in the England squad, was happy to take on reporters in games of darts and pool on his visit to the media centre on Friday, despite losing all encounters.

After his second defeat at pool, and with chat there was money on the table, Vardy quipped: ‘I only earn £2 a week.‘ 

Vardy even sat in on club and country team-mate Harry Maguire‘s press interview and asked the final question, saying: ‘It‘s Jamie Vardy from the Vardy Express, how big is the diameter of your head?‘

Vardy had nicknamed Maguire ‘Slab-head‘ on his arrival at Leicester from Hull City at the start of last season. 

Meanwhile, Maguire, despite being a proud part of England‘s Yorkshire defensive three with Kyle Walker and John Stones, has only played cricket ‘a couple of times at school‘ and had little to say about the two greatest living Yorkshiremen, Geoffrey Boycott and Dickie Bird.

 

It will not come as a surprise that FIFA are not commenting on a video doing the rounds that shows Diego Maradona — believed to be earning £10,000 a day as a ‘FIFA legend‘ ambassador — on a private jet eating a gargantuan meal and draining a glass of vodka without using his hands. 

There is also a suspicious-looking packet of white powder by his side.

 

How ironic that it was assistant boss Steve Holland of all people caught by the long lenses of the photographers holding training notes that showed the likely England XI to face Panama on Sunday.

For the remorseful Holland regards it as a ‘traitorous offence‘ to leak the team, according to manager Gareth Southgate.

 

The size of the World Cup TV audiences on ITV and has surprised even the two networks. 

The interest is explained by the matches being on terrestrial TV — which has been starved of quality live football — the ever-increasing interest in the World Cup and England starting the tournament well.

 

Cesc‘s short stint

When trumpeted that Cesc Fabregas would be joining their World Cup line-up of pundits on June 11, there was no mention that he would be only staying for a week — with the Chelsea midfielder having already left Russia.

New Derby manager Frank Lampard is also expected to go home after England play Panama, with demanding Derby owner Mel Morris not likely to be keen on him staying any longer.

Another pundit, Phil Neville, has made it clear after consultation with the FA that he would prefer not to talk about England due to his FA position as the England women‘s manager.

To complete the upheaval, Radio 5 Live‘s England pitchside reporter Caroline Barker has had to return home with an ear infection

 

The FA‘s U-turn about inviting the FA board to attend the World Cup knockout stage, after saying none of them would be going to Russia, is down to government tensions having eased and the realisation that nothing the English football ruling body do is going to influence Vladimir Putin‘s game plan one way or the other.

 

Nike, who surprisingly extended their England kit deal after recent woeful tournament showings, have had an early replica-shirt bonus in Russia, with England wearing the white kit against Panama on Sunday after playing in red against Tunisia.

 

The darts phenomenon in Repino, which started as a good-humoured response by the FA after Joe Hart was not prepared to talk about the in-house competition at Euro 2016, has reached the stage of other England players cheering on their representative at the daily three-shot challenge surrounded by photographers and TV cameras.

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