Video LoadingVideo UnavailableClick to playTap to playThe video will auto-play soon8CancelPlay now
Get the FREE Mirror Football newsletter by email with the day’s key headlines and transfer news
Invalid EmailSomething went wrong, please try again later.Sign upWhen you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Your information will be used in accordance with ourPrivacy Notice.Thank you for subscribingWe have more newslettersShow meSee ourprivacy notice
Jamie Vardy has become co-owner of American football club Rochester Rhinos but he has no plans to end his playing career just yet.
The Leicester City striker has bought a minority stake in the New York state-based side, who have not played competitively in four years but are the only side from outside MLS to have won the US Open Cup.
The 34-year-old has been involved in talks with David and Wendy Dworkin – the club’s owners since 2016 – for over two years and the plans now aim to see Rochester Rhinos return to the pitch next year.
The former England international had the blessing of Leicester to pursue this plan while he continues playing with the Foxes, whom he helped to this season’s FA Cup trophy.
Jamie Vardy celebrates winning this season's FA Cup with Leicester City
Vardy explained in an interview with The Athletic : “I like to keep myself busy, don’t I?
“It’s really exciting. It’s going to be a lot different to what I’ve been used to for the last 10 years. But I’m looking forward to getting stuck into it.
“I think it kind of resonates with me because of what they’ve achieved in the past — the only lower-league club to win the US Open Cup, the only team to have ever done it who’s outside MLS (Major League Soccer). It’s all about bringing that back and trying to replicate it — but we also want to bring it back even better than it was before.
Arsenal 'make transfer bid' for Anderlecht star Albert Sambi Lokonga
Mikel Arteta forced to go back to Arsenal's transfer drawing board after triple blow
“Do you know what, me and John (Morris, Vardy’s agent) were talking about this for a while. I think it was just a case of finding a franchise that meant something, and the Rhinos popped up.
"I looked at a few others, but everything just kept coming back to the Rhinos — it felt 100 times better. It’ll be a lot harder, don’t get me wrong. But I think that’s the bit that’s exciting about it as well — I’m not doing it the normal way.
"I don’t think I’ve ever done anything the normal way, anyway! So it’ll be good. Really good.”
Can Jamie Vardy balance playing Premier League football with co-owning a club? Comment below
Rochester Rhinos have four national championships to their name and and now want to return to the game stronger than ever.
David Dworkin – whose family also part-own NBA team Sacramento Kings – added: "This is a huge coup for Rochester and the Rhinos.
"Jamie Vardy is known throughout the soccer world because of his success and his inspirational story, and we are delighted that he has chosen to join us as a co-owner.
"Aside from the experience, knowledge, and profile that Jamie will bring to our club, one of the things that has really shone through during our discussions with him is how incredibly passionate he is about this project.
"Jamie absolutely shares our desire to give Rochester a successful soccer team again."
Vardy added his thanks to Leicester for allowing him to pursue the move: “I can’t thank Leicester enough for allowing me to do this," he added.
"They know, and I know, that it will not in any way distract me from my priority, which is helping Leicester to be successful and scoring goals in the Premier League for many more years to come.”
Lee Tucker, who was the project leader at Vardy’s successful V9 Academy – which attempted to help bridge the gap for non-league players to the professional game, to mirror Vardy’s history – has been appointed sporting director at the club.
Tucker said: “There’s a lot to do between now and the team returning to competitive action, so I can’t wait to get started.”
Vardy has admitted talks have been frustrated due to the impact of Covid, but he is now relishing the opportunity to get started.
“I can’t wait to get out there — and I will at the first opportunity,” he continued. “John and Lee managed to go out way before the pandemic kicked in. So we had people on the ground looking around at the facilities and stuff — I sat at home receiving video after video.
“It’s actually been annoying at some points, thinking, ‘I wish I had been there to see this’. But it’s so hard at the minute. Obviously, Covid has put a block on it.”