Leicester star Jamie Vardy admits going from garage to glory would be the ultimate FA Cup fairytale.
The striker will make history when he steps out for Saturday’s showdown with Chelsea at Wembley.
It is the Foxes’ first FA Cup final for 52 years and they have never won the trophy, having lost the final four times.
Playing on Saturday also means Vardy will have appeared in all 13 rounds of the competition after making his FA Cup debut for Stocksbridge in the preliminary round in 2007.
It will be another chapter in the striker’s remarkable rise during which he has come from non-league to win the Premier League and play for England.
‘We used to have a derelict garage and used to say the garage was the net,’ said Vardy. ‘The amount of noise it used to make was definitely upsetting the neighbours.
‘That is the enjoyment side of it and having a laugh with your mates – playing Wembley crosses or singles. I think that is where it all starts for kids.
‘There was one time while I was at Sheffield Wednesday and I bumped into the then academy director outside Hillsborough.
‘He said: “So now I know why we have had to paint the exit doors on the stadium”.
‘We used to go in the car park and play football against them as well. I said, “I do apologise, it is the only place we have a net”. Doing stuff like that and watching your local team is what makes you fall in love with it.
‘It just shows, obviously, when you’re a kid dreaming and seeing the FA Cup, to playing in the finals.
‘To have gone all the way from the bottom and played every round just makes it even more interesting and me even more determined to try and get the win.’
Vardy’s 24 goals helped inspire the Foxes to their astonishing 5,000-1 Premier League triumph five years ago.
Including the former England international, only six players remain from the title-winning squad – with Wes Morgan and Christian Fuchs out of contract in the summer.
Winning the FA Cup would usher in an official changing of the guard at the King Power Stadium and Vardy admits the old boys do talk to the young squad about how the league was won.
‘There are still a few [of us] left to be able to get the stories across to the younger lads about exactly what happened back then,’ he said.
‘It gets spoken about every so often, how it happened and what went on training-wise. It has changed, though, it’s a different mentality now.
‘Before it was “We’re not supposed to be here so go out and enjoy yourself. Oh, we’ve won – decent. We’ve got to 40 points and we’re safe”.
‘Now because we are progressing there is more of a target on ourselves because we want to keep pushing and pushing.
‘Teams are coming to Leicester and wanting to get that scalp. It’s all about mentality and making sure we’re giving our all and getting the wins.’
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