The 26th of March marked five years since Jamie Vardy’s first goal for England against Germany.
The striker, then making his fifth appearance for his country, showed lethal instincts to flick Nathaniel Clyne’s cross behind himself and past Manuel Neuer into the back of the net.
It was another glorious chapter for Vardy, whose goals were soon to guide Leicester to the most miraculous Premier League title triumph.
However, fast-forward five years and the 34-year-old is now firmly out of the Three Lions reckoning, having all-but retired from international duty after the 2018 World Cup in Russia with 26 caps and seven goals to his name.
Whilst there have been suggestions that Vardy’s decision was slightly too premature, he has certainly been vindicated.
Since he stepped back, his performances for the Foxes have remained excellent. He has scored an eye-watering 55 goals for Leicester in the time following, playing a key role as the East Midlanders secured a place in the UEFA Europa League last term but also as they look to better that with a UEFA Champions League return this time around.
The striker, dubbed “wonderful” by Foxes boss Brendan Rodgers, scooped another fantastic personal achievement last year, too. He become the first Leicester City player to claim the Golden Boot, with his 23 strikes in 2019/20 enough to see him edge ahead of the likes of Harry Kane, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mo Salah.
All of this may not have been possible had Vardy had the strains and travels of international football to contend with.
After all, the toll on his body appears to be worsening already. Vardy has missed seven matches in all competitions this season through injury – the highest amount for he has been unavailable in one campaign since Leicester earned promotion back to the Premier League. This could have potentially been even worse with England duties had he not stepped back from the international scene.
At the time of his unofficial retirement, the veteran also suggested that a lack of game-time had “an impact” in his decision. Kane, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck were all preferred by Roy Hodgson and Gareth Southgate.
That competition has only been enhanced, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Danny Ings, Ollie Watkins, Patrick Bamford and of course Kane having fantastic personal seasons and all vying for a place in the Three Lions setup.
Whilst it could be argued that Vardy has the quality to challenge for a place, he will reflect on a solid England career which all kicked off with that stunning finish against Germany in 2016, and will surely believe he made the correct decision in drawing it to a close when he did.
AND in more news, Leicester should not look to sign William Carvalho once more…