By Charles Wade Palmer
A JAMIE Vardy lookalike is back as a postie after his earnings dried up and he fell out with his agent in a dispute over money.
Lee Chapman, 30, had his life flipped upside down when he was dragged him onto the Leicester City team bus as they celebrated their Premier League win last summer and he met hero and doppleganger, Vardy.
He instantly became famous and with bookings flying in his agent James Austin persuaded him to quit his day job to become a full time lookalike.
But his fortunes dipped just like the real Jamie Vardy and he is now back as a postman after claiming his agent didn’t pay him all his earnings which left him broke.
Lee, from Leicester, said: “It was absolutely mad, I was a nobody doing every single media slot you can imagine up and down the country constantly throughout summer – even going to the Euros.
“I’m a Leicester City fan so obviously it was a whirlwind of a time when they won the league and suddenly I was celebrating with my heroes.
“Before I knew it, I had left my job to become a Jamie Vardy lookalike, you name a show and I appeared on it.
“But I wasn’t making anywhere near the amount of money I was promised to the extent that I was seriously struggling to put food on the plate for my family.
“I would have made more money if I’d stayed with Royal Mail.
“It is ironic that since last summer as I was now struggling so has the real Jamie Vardy.”
Lee was signed up by Austin who worked for the Lookalike Agency last April when he appeared in a viral video.
But when Leicester were crowned league champions and he met England striker Vardy, his profile went through the roof.
Lee admits he then naively went with whatever he was told by Austin who had him pack in his £18K postie job for a life of fame and fortune.
He was devastated and confused when his hero Jamie Vardy blocked him on Twitter but he believes Austin was to blame as he had managed his social media.
Lee said: “He wanted me to give him access to my Twitter and Instagram accounts.
“I gave him access and next thing you know he’s generating followers but the next thing I knew, I was blocked by the Vardys.
“I was distraught, I didn’t know why I was blocked and he acted as though he didn’t know what we’d done wrong.
“The fame and thrill of my new job was mental but all this time when I was having this fun, I wasn’t being paid.
“Once we’d finished with Euro 2016 work, Austin suddenly became harder to contact and the money wasn’t coming in.”
Lee then talked to bosses at the Lookalike Agency and started to total up what he believed he should have earned.
He then realised the Vardy party was over and his fifteen minutes of fame had finished.
Football’s look alike of the moment had expected around £8,000 in bookings which took him around the country and to the Euros but Lee claims to have only pocketed £3,000 of it.
By August, Lee had returned to his postie job as Leicester City struggled as they kicked off their bid to defend their Premier League title.
He added: “I feel like I’ve been royally taken for a ride, I’ve gone back to Royal Mail and tried hard to get to where I could’ve been without any Vardy jobs.
“I’ve worked non-stop, six days a week with all the overtime I can manage.
“It isn’t just the money though. I just feel like the agent has wrecked my reputation as well.”
Austin has denied the claims but has been revealed in 2008, he was convicted for fraud after using his grandparents’ identities to pay off tens of thousands of pounds of gambling debts.
Just four years later, in 2012, Austin was jailed for two years for a several offences, after he was arrested for passing fake notes at Royal Ascot.