You are here: HomeWorld NewsSports2018 10 12Article 692017
  • Al Jazeera
  • France 24
  • Xinhua News Agency

Sports World News of Friday, 12 October 2018


James Maddison: A stellar rise from car-washing to England international

James Maddison Has James Maddison has been chosen by Gareth Southgate to step up from the England Under-21 side

From washing the manager's car at 16 to a senior England call-up at 21, James Maddison has been on quite a journey.

The Leicester City midfielder has enjoyed a stellar start to life in the Premier League, scoring three goals and assisting two more, and is now part of the England squad preparing for Nations League matches against Croatia and Spain.

His rise from relegation dogfights in League One to starring on his Premier League debut at Old Trafford caught the attention of national manager Gareth Southgate - but it hasn't always been a smooth progression.

'If he did something wrong, he would wash my car'
When Maddison started his career at Coventry City, then managed by Steven Pressley, he could sometimes be found in the car park with a bucket in one hand and a sponge in the other.

"We would get the young players to tidy the changing rooms and clean the senior players' boots - and if I felt James had done something wrong, he would wash my car," said Pressley.

But underneath the soap and suds, Pressley knew he had a player with "outstanding technical ability", and gave him his debut as a 17-year-old in a League Cup tie with Cardiff City in August 2014.

"He was 16 when he started training with the first team and didn't take any time to feel his way in. He was confident in his ability and he felt like he belonged there," added Pressley.

"It wasn't a case of shaping his ability, because he had been born with that. It was about shaping him as a young person, and as an individual, into a footballer who could perform season after season.

"It was about making sure that self-belief and confidence didn't start to become arrogance."

Word of Maddison's talent had spread - and opposition managers would often enquire about him.

"I remember we had an under-23s game at QPR and I bumped into Harry Redknapp in the tunnel at half-time," said Pressley. "James was only 17 at the time, but all we talked about was him and his ability."

Flamboyant, confident - but a late developer

But progression wasn't a foregone conclusion for Maddison.

Having joined Coventry before his eighth birthday, he had to watch some of his team-mates rewarded with schoolboy contracts before he was.

"He was one of the smallest players in the age group and physically he had to compete and fight," said Sky Blues academy manager Richard Stevens.

"That probably added something to his game because he had to be different and he had to develop in other areas."

Maddison played alongside Leicester and Wales forward George Thomas in the Coventry academy, which had previously produced Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson and Fulham defender Cyrus Christie.

Despite his slender frame, his technical ability - and swagger - was impossible to ignore.

"He was always flamboyant and confident when he played," said Stevens.

"He was very talented and driven, and he just absolutely loved football. He always wanted to be the best player."

Stepping up the football pyramid

After moving to Norwich City in 2016, Maddison had to wait more than a year to make his debut for the club, spending that time on loan - first back at Coventry, then at Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen.

The highlight? A stunning 90th-minute free-kick to give his side victory over Rangers in September 2016.

Daniel Farke's appointment as Norwich boss the following summer was the opening he needed.

A sensational season followed featuring a memorable winner in the local derby with Ipswich, inclusion in the PFA Championship Team of the Year, the award for Norwich's Player of the Season and an England Under-21 call-up.

All of which culminated in a move to Leicester in summer in a deal worth at least £22m.