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Off Script: Inside James Maddison’s life – dealing with fame, cricket, MNF and more | Football News

By October 2, 2019 No Comments
Off Script: Inside James Maddison's life - dealing with fame, cricket, MNF and more | Football News

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In the latest Off Script, Leicester’s James Maddison talks openly about dealing with fame, his love for cricket, how he dreads the highlight circle on MNF and having to wash Steven Pressley’s car

In the latest Off Script, Leicester’s James Maddison talks openly about dealing with fame, his love for cricket, how he dreads the highlight circle on MNF and having to wash Steven Pressley’s car

In a special edition of Off Script, James Maddison opens up about dealing with fame, his love for cricket, how he dreads the highlight circle on MNF and having to wash Steven Pressley’s car. Daily Week Sports’ Patrick Davison has a laid back chat with Leicester’s man of the moment…

‘Show me a good loser, I’ll show you a loser’

Maddison scored the late winner in Leicester’s 2-1 victory over Tottenham last month, and his self-belief is clear for all to see. He insists it is confidence, not arrogance, and puts his attitude down to his parents’ influence.

I love the quote: ‘If you show me a good loser, I’ll show you a loser.’ There’s no such thing as a good loser really, is there? I’m a bad loser, because I love winning.

 Maddison's self-confidence is clear to see

Maddison’s self-confidence is clear to see

I’d never want to come across as arrogant. There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. I think if I got on the wrong side, for starters my mum would give me a clip on the ear. That’s not the values I stand for. I always talk about self-belief and confidence, because nobody is going to believe in you for you, you have to believe in yourself for starters, and I’ve always done that. I’ve always been someone to showcase my ability and talent.

I always like to think I’m a down to earth, humble person because that’s how my parents have raised me. They tell me they’re proud of me, every now and again, so I must be doing something right!

It doesn’t matter if you can score a hat-trick on a Tuesday night in a cup game against 4,000 people, it’s that final with the world watching, everyone’s eyes are on you

James Maddison

Me and my Dad have a very close relationship, where we talk about football all of the time. After a game, we’ll sit and always debrief the game, sometimes watch it back together. We actually do. He’ll say: “Do you reckon you could have done this here?” and I’ll say: “No, why would I have done that?!” My Mum is more precious towards me! I’m so lucky and grateful to have a family that gave me the opportunity to do this.

I don’t think I’d be scoring winners in the Premier League, with them watching me, without their dedication. Like helping me to travel to Cardiff away on a Sunday morning with Coventry because there was no mini-bus travel. Things like that. I never will, but it’s important you never forget that.

Maddison playing for Coventry as a 16-year-old

Maddison playing for Coventry as a 16-year-old

Am I a big-moment player? Yeah, definitely. To be a top player you’ve got to produce big moments in big games, when the most people are watching. It doesn’t matter if you can score a hat-trick on a Tuesday night in a cup game in front of 4,000 people, it’s that final with the world watching, everyone’s eyes are on you. That’s where you become a big player.

It’s that drive within. Listen, I’ve scored one winning goal, it’s not like I’ve had a summer of Ben Stokes’ proportions, but it’s just about wanting to win. I’ve always had that. I’ve got that. I’ve always been a winner.

‘Washing Pressley’s car did me good’

Maddison was brought into the Coventry side by Steven Pressley at the age of 16, making his debut in 2014. He then moved on to Norwich, and had a loan spell at Aberdeen, but puts a lot of his success down to the Scot taking a chance on him.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was called in to play with the firsts. I had just turned 16 at the time, and I remember thinking: “This is an opportunity here.” I had a wise head on my shoulders at the time – or at least I think I did! – so I went and demanded the ball off the players. Not everything worked, I probably got barged off the ball a few times, but I think I showed Steven Pressley what I was about. The confidence and the willingness to show him I was a good player.

Steven Pressley brought Maddison through at Coventry

Steven Pressley brought Maddison through at Coventry

During my time at Cov, I ended up cleaning his car. I think we did a hydration test every morning. You go and pee in a pot, and it gets tested just to make sure you’re staying on top of your fluids, and I think I may have forgot to do mine.

He said: “James, I need a word.” My lip started going. He said: “These are the standards that you’ve got to set, you’ve got to be on it every day.” It was a very good learning curve for me. I was out there for an hour and a half washing his car because of it. He came down and checked halfway through, and I think he said: “That’s not clean enough, on the bonnet” and I’m thinking: “I just did 45 minutes on the bonnet!” It was all good, and part of my development.

‘My job, in detail’

Maddison usually sits as a No 10 with Leicester, but he explains that it can often turn into a No 8, with great discipline required. He ranks Jorginho and Harry Winks as being among the most difficult midfielders he has played against in the Premier League.

If I’m playing as a No 8, my job is to create and score goals, but also be able to help in the build-up. A No 10 is playing in-between the lines, but sometimes as a No 8 you have to help out with the build-up as well, because sometimes there is only one pivot player in midfield. Sometimes the other No 8 goes up, and you drop down, but I’m comfortable doing that. As a No 8 there is more demand on the out-of-possession stuff, like sliding, stopping passes through.

The Premier League is the best league in the world, there’s no doubt about it. If you’re not sliding across quick enough to shut those passing lines, the type of players in those positions will just play it through.

Maddison explains how his role can often turn from a No 10 to a No 8

Maddison explains how his role can often turn from a No 10 to a No 8

Who’s the best at getting it through? Jorginho is very good at it. He’s a very good footballer. I know last year he got a bit of stick here and there, but he is very good. Harry Winks is another good example, a very good passer of the ball. The job against Spurs was to get into a narrow three, force it wide, and stop the danger players getting it through the lines. Even then, when we were doing that quite well against Spurs, Harry Winks could get it through, with a quick two-touch wrap pass.

That’s the quality of opposition we play against. There isn’t a moment where you can switch off and not do your defensive duties, because you get punished, and every camera is on you.

‘I love MNF… unless I get the circle around me!’

There’s no hiding place, because when it comes to Monday Night Football, both Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville are sat there pointing you out, with a circle around you, and in slo-mo!

There was a game against Liverpool last year, and I was one of the blockers from a defensive corner. Firmino got a run on me, I tried to block him and he ended up heading it in. I think there was a ring around me on that MNF. I think I turned that one off and put the news on instead!

There’s no hiding place, because when it comes to Monday Night Football, both Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville are sat there pointing you out, with a circle around you, and in slo-mo!

James Maddison on MNF

I always watch it, I love football. I always watch football, and MNF is the perfect example. When they go through the games, analyse the goals, that’s the perfect time for me. My Dad and I sit down and talk about it, that’s the game and why we love it!

Stokes’ heroics show self-belief

Maddison is a keen cricket fan, and believes Ben Stokes’ heroics throughout the summer show the self-belief and calmness he has under pressure, something he believes transfers to football.

I would always watch cricket when I was younger, both T20 and the Tests. Me and Chilly [Ben Chilwell] were in the canteen for hours the other week watching the Ashes.

I remember the 2005 Ashes, I was eight or nine. And in 2009 when Andrew Flintoff stood there with his arms outstretched. That stood out for me, and then through that Graeme Swann, Kevin Pietersen era, I would watch it all of the time.

Ben Stokes' summer heroics left a mark on Maddison

Ben Stokes’ summer heroics left a mark on Maddison

What a summer Ben Stokes had! Heroics. I sat there watching with my mouth wide open, couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It’s self-belief. He barely even acknowledged his 50 at Headingley. He got on with business because he knew he had a job to do. It’s similar in football. The self-belief and courage he showed, but also staying calm in himself, because you can feel that confidence in yourself and start lashing at things.

It’s similar to football, if you get a big chance at the end of the game that you’ve put everything into, it’s about staying cool and finishing it.

‘Fame can be difficult’

Now instantly recognisable in the public, the 22-year-old admits fame can be hard to deal with, but understands it from both sides.

It can be difficult, and that’s the side that some people don’t necessarily see.

We went for dinner the other day in London, and sometimes we get asked for pictures. That’s fine, I’ll never, ever say no. I was with Chilly. I’m always up for that because I’d be the same; if I saw Ed Sheeran I’d ask him for a picture! So we’re mid-dinner, and I’ve got spaghetti Bolognese all over my face. Someone comes up and asks for a picture, without using manners, which is fine because sometimes you forget your manners if you see someone you want a picture with. I said: “OK, but can I just finish my dinner.”

Maddison received his first call up to the England senior team in October 2018

Maddison received his first call up to the England senior team in October 2018

He said: “I’ve gotta shoot, can we do it now?” It just didn’t sit well with me. Whether you’re speaking to a waiter, whoever, speak with manners or respect.

If I wanted to go and get a quiet coffee in town now, I couldn’t, because I’d get recognised. But that’s something you deal with. You can never just switch off in public. You’re always watched, and someone always has a phone! That’s why I always do my barnet! It is what it is.

We socialise a lot as a team. We play a lot of mini golf, 18 holes and the loser pays for dinner, so Chilly usually pays.

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