From needing a ‘kick up the backside’ from Daniel Farke to being crowned as Norwich’s Player of the Year: James Maddison was once compared to Dele Alli and is now on Manchester United’s radar as the Leicester star returns to face his beloved former club
- Leicester face Norwich on Friday as James Maddison returns to his former club
- England star has fond memories at Carrow Road having spent two years there
- After two loan moves and getting off to a slow start, Maddison came into his own
- Maddison was named as the Canaries’ Player of the Year in the 2017-18 campaign
- Since completing a £24m move to Foxes, he has become one of England’s finest
- Now Maddison is on Manchester United’s radar as he guides Leicester to Europe
James Maddison’s steady rise to the top of English football is not the least bit surprising if you ask anyone affliated with Norwich City.
The 23-year-old, who is now a vital cog in Brendan Rodgers’ stunning Leicester side, was a fan favourite during his spell at the Canaries where he developed and honed his skills as an exciting playmaker.
Two years after his move, Maddison returns to Carrow Road on Friday night for the first time since completing a £24million move to the Foxes, a club he holds especially dear in his heart.
James Maddison returns to face his beloved Norwich City with Leicester on Friday evening
‘Norwich is the first result I check every week. I feel more like a supporter than an ex-player,’ he told The Pink Un back in December. ‘I want Norwich to win every single week, just two weekends when they don’t. This is one of them. I’ve got to treat it as any other game.
‘It’s not any other game, it’s a special game for me. I’m not going to say different because Norwich is a club where I’ve got so many great memories from my time there.
‘I met so many great people, that period of my life was when I felt like I was on top of the world. Everything about my life I just loved, from living in Norwich, the people, the fans. That’s why I have a soft spot because that’s how they made me feel.
‘I am not lying when I say that. I don’t say that about every club I have been at. It has to be business as usual. I’ll go in with the same mindset as I have every other game I have played for Leicester City, and that’s to win the game and play the best I can for my team.’
Maddison began his career at Coventry (left) and has enjoyed a loan spell at Aberdeen (right)
It was at Norwich where Maddison really flourished and the club is held dear in his heart
Maddison arrived at Norwich as a promising 19-year-old but was sent immediately back on loan to Coventry for the remainder of the season in a bid to further his development at lower levels.
Arriving back in Norfolk later that summer, Maddison would be shipped out on loan again but this time to Scotland with Aberdeen giving him a run in their first team.
Maddison believes his two loan moves were vital for his development as League One and the SPFL allowed him to kick on from an early age.
Mddison’s journey also drew comparisons with Tottenham and England team-mate Dele Alli, who gained valuable experience as a youngster with MK Dons before completing a £5m move to White Hart Lane.
‘Dele Alli is probably the perfect example,’ Maddison told the Independent in January 2018. ‘He played loads of games for MK Dons at a young age. He got a move and kicked on from there, because he had that experience behind him.’
Maddison was crowned as the EFL Young Player of the Month in January 2018
Maddison’s (front) rise in English football was compared to Tottenham’s Dele Alli (back)
However, while he would get his chance at Carrow Road following his return from Aberdeen, Maddison credits Norwich manager Daniel Farke with being given the opportunity to play while a much-needed ‘kick up the backside’ played a crucial role in helping him make the most of his chance.
‘I always knew I’d take my chance when I got it,’ Maddison told BBC Radio Norfolk in February 2018.
‘I’m a confident lad and Daniel Farke coming in was the little kick up the backside that I needed. He gave me a chance to play at Fulham away (in August) and since then I haven’t looked back.’
And he didn’t look back. Maddison took his chance and would go on to play 49 games in all competitions that season, scoring 15 goals and providing 11 assists for his team-mates.
While Maddison’s efforts weren’t enough to help Norwich gain promotion that season, the youngster was named as the club’s Player of the Year and earned himself a place in the Championship’s PFA Team of the Year.
Norwich boss Daniel Farke (left) motivated Maddison (right) to push on while at Carrow Road
Farke reveals Maddison was always ‘greedy to improve each day’ while with the Canaries
JAMES MADDISON AT NORWICH CITY
EFL Young Player of the Month: January 2018
PFA Championship Team of the Year: 2017–18
Norwich Player of the Season: 2017–18
EFL Team of the Season: 2017–18
‘From the first day, I realised how special Maddison could be and the praise for him is well deserved,’ Canaries boss Farke said in December.
‘We had to be patient to have the time to work with him. He always had a great attitude.
‘I remember when I first arrived, he was a bit like a kid and we had to build him up, also in his physical terms and tactical understanding of the game.
‘Although he was that young, he was always greedy to improve each day.
‘He is a confident lad, but also still finds a good balance between being confident, that you have to be in his position, but also being self-critical about wanting to improve your game.’
Maddison was a clear talent and was continously linked with the likes of Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool during his time at both Coventry and while at Carrow Road.
However, it was Leicester that would win the race for Maddison’s signature – a move that saw him go for a club-record fee of £24m.
Maddison scored 16 goals in 53 appearances for Norwich, earning him rave reviews in Norfolk
Farke added: ‘We were sad when he left us, but sometimes you have to accept that a player’s development is a bit quicker than the club was, and it (Maddison’s transfer) was also crucial to keep the club running because of lots of financial pressure.’
Maddison has enjoyed a stellar campaign with Leicester so far and are looking increasingly likely to secure Champions League football next season.
His performances have earned him rave reviews with his nine goals and three assists only help further his profile.
So much so that Leicester’s No 10 has been on Manchester United’s summer wishlist along with best mate Jack Grealish.
He now returns to face Norwich at Carrow Road as Leicester look to cement third position
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a long-term admirer of Maddison’s and is keen to sign him this summer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is keen to add more attacking options to his squad at the end of the season and Maddison’s credentials tick many boxes for what he wants from a player.
While the future looks extremely bright for one of England’s young-guns, his time in the lower leagues and at Norwich is something he will always be truly greatful for.
‘Whenever I go back to Norwich it’s all good positive things and they’re all happy for me to be doing well, which you can’t underestimate,’ Maddison adds. ‘I am grateful for that.’