Hartlepool United's Niko Muir feels debt of gratitude to Leicester City's former England man Jamie Vardy
Niko Muir believes his chance to shine at Hartlepool United would not have come, had it not been for players like Jamie Vardy.
The Leicester City striker, who retired from international duty with England just last week, has been an inspiration for Muir, who has been a revelation since stepping up from Hendon and Isthmian League football.
Muir’s journey has so far followed a similar path to Vardy.
The Premier League frontman was operating in the eighth tier with Stocksbridge Park Steels, when Halifax Town picked him up. Goal galore saw Fleetwood Town take a punt and the rest, as they say, is history.
Pools’ two-goal man Muir thinks Vardy’s success has shone a light on players down the pecking order, more than ever before.
Ahead of tonight’s National League clash with Barrow, the player said: “Vardy has done so well to get where he is. He is an inspiration to non-league strikers.
“To do what he has done from where he has come from. It is incredible.
“It is good to look up to him as he has made it.
“It gives players hope that if he can do it, so can I. If you apply yourself and work hard, that is.”
Muir goes in search of goal number three in blue and white this evening.
But it is not just his sharpness in front of goal that has impressed Poolies.
The player’s sharp movement, ability to find space and willingness to work and chase everything have endeared him to Pools fans, so much so they’ve even got a catchy song about him
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Muir continued: “He has opened a lot of doors to non-league players.
“The non-league thing is wide open now because of what he has done and who he has played for.
“It gives players up and down the land that glimmer of hope, if they want it enough.
“He has drawn attention on non-league football like never before.”
Muir is not along in taking the step up.
Managers in this division, and much higher, are always keen to unearth the next Vardy or Chris Smalling - and that’s no bad thing at all, according to Muir.
“Every non-league player has a story. Every one has been on a journey,” he said.
“There are loads of players you play against and then see them move.
“You are happy for them and they are happy for you.
“It is like a community. We all look out for each other. You play against them, keep in touch, and see them out or see them play and you are happy.
“It is like a little family. We keep in touch from time to time.”