An English attacker who uses his brain to help him bring unselfish and consistent quality on the pitch, and to keep his confidence in-check. A young footballer who is visibly grateful for any opportunity he is given, sharing mutual respect with coaches and fans alike. A young, English footballer who would be unsatisfied sitting on the bench, collecting an easy fat pay-packet each week! James Maddison is undoubtedly a rare breed, and leaves fans wondering whether there is a limit to his potential.
Unlike many of his England under-21 teammates, his career did not start in a padded, first-class academy. Coventry City’s tumble down the leagues over the last few years has been well documented, but Maddison’s rise through their academy wasn’t tampered by deteriorating money and morale; he made his first team debut aged just 17. He attributed this to his determination and focus over years in Coventry’s academy, evidencing both a great attitude and an impressive level of self-awareness.
These two qualities continued to serve him well. A professional contract and regular spot in Coventry’s first team quickly followed, providing a lively spark of optimism in an increasingly dismal pit for the fans. It took a back injury to prevent him from flourishing further on the pitch in 2014-15; it instead gave him another chance to demonstrate his resilience - rewarded with the number 10 shirt by manager Tony Mowbray once recovered. Consistent League 1 football in 2015-16 showed no sign of injury hangover, however, and his talent began to turn the heads of the Premier League’s most glamorous sides.
Enough to make any 19-year old footballer’s head spin and ego inflate, you might think – he saw through them all. James Maddison joined good old Norwich City in February 2016, and following a short loan back to Coventry, set his sights on a place in Norwich’s new Championship side. Another barrier stood in the way, however. Alex Neil, determined to prove himself after Premier League relegation, was less willing to chance an unproven Maddison in his first team line-up. A desperate desire to continue learning and improving fuelled Maddison’s decision to request a loan move: not back to safe League 1, but to a tougher, more physical league - the SPL.
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Maddison’s loan move to Aberdeen turned out better than even he could have predicted. Given the platform to showcase his talent in front of large crowds (and uncompromising central defenders), Maddison returned to Norwich with an increased goal and assist tally, Aberdeen fans singing his praises, and a renewed confidence in his own ability. Impressing new Norwich City boss Daniel Farke, he has been Norwich’s star man in his debut canary season. Again, his attitude and talent have been rewarded – this time with an England under 21 cap.
Self-awareness, level-headed attitude, determination to overcome adversity and consistent belief in himself have defined Maddison’s successful career thus far. Providing he retains these qualities as he matures, his footballing future may be even brighter.
A young, English footballer who would be unsatisfied sitting on the bench, collecting an easy fat pay-packet each week! @Madders10 is a rare breed, and leaves fans wondering whether there is a limit to his potential.#EnglandU21 #NCFC #NorwichCity #OTBChttps://t.co/Xp0M00r3CD pic.twitter.com/sowmUG8OZy— City of Yellows (@cityofyellows) 27 March 2018