Premier League star Jamie Vardy buys stake in Rochester Rhinos

Premier League striker Jamie Vardy has bought a stake in U.S. football club Rochester Rhinos.

The Rhinos have been out of action for four years, but are targeting a 2022 comeback. Vardy, 34, has said he will continue playing for Leicester City. The Rhinos have four national championships to its name, and won the U.S. Open Cup in 1999.

"I'm really excited to be part of the Rhinos," Vardy said. "I've been looking at opportunities in the United States for a while, but there was something about Rochester and the Rhinos that just felt right. I love the story of the U.S. Open Cup win, and although the club has been through some difficult years since, in a way that makes this more appealing to me."

Vardy will work alongside owners David and Wendy Dworkin, who also part-own the NBA's Sacramento Kings.

He added: "Once I started speaking to David and Wendy -- and we've had so many conversations via video calls -- I could see how enthusiastic they are about the Rhinos, and I knew that I wanted to get involved and try to play a part in helping to turn things around. It won't be easy, but I never do anything the easy way in life."

Vardy's remarkable career has seen him go from non-league football at Fleetwood Town to the Premier League with Leicester City. He was part of the Leicester side that won an improbable Premier League title in 2016, and has 26 England caps to his name.

"This is a huge coup for Rochester and the Rhinos," David Dworkin said. "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."

Wendy Dworkin added: "It's clearly been a tough time for the Rhinos supporters, and we've certainly felt that frustration as owners. We've never wavered in our commitment to bringing professional soccer back to Rochester. Hopefully this fantastic news, which we've been desperate to tell people about for so long, will give everyone connected with the club the belief that there are good times ahead."

The Rhinos will appoint Vardy's ex-V9 academy project leader Lee Tucker as sporting director and are seeking candidates for the head coach role.