Leicester's James Maddison wanted everyone talking about him but now it's for all the wrong reasons

Leicester's James Maddison wanted everyone talking about him but now it's for all the wrong reasons

Back in September 2019, James Maddison stood in the darkened corner of a vast warehouse and explained what kept him the right side of a thin divide.

‘There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance,' he told Sportsmail. 'I am just a confident guy. It's how I am, it's how I've been raised…. I would never want to come across as arrogant because I wasn't brought up that way and my mum would be the first to give me a clip around the ear if she thought I was being like that.’

By then, the Leicester midfielder was already cementing his reputation as one of English football’s finest young talents.

He was the Foxes’ creative spark, a peacocking player who was happy to ruffle feathers off it too – just ask Jeremy Clarkson and his ‘#thin’ hair.

Perhaps predictably, though, that swagger prompted questions about Maddison's attitude and how carefully he straddled those blurred lines.

Gareth Southgate had added the midfielder to the England fold but wouldn’t hand him a debut for another couple of months.

‘I'll know if I cross that line and I don't think I do because I'd never want to be arrogant,’ he added. ‘There's no positive of being arrogant.’

Unfortunately, it will be rather harder to shake those accusations now.

On Sunday, it emerged that Maddison was one of three Leicester players dropped for their crucial 3-2 defeat by West Ham over a breach of coronavirus regulations.

It's claimed Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Hamza Choudhury flouted rules by attending team-mate Ayoze Perez's house party.

For Brendan Rodgers it could hardly have come at a worse moment - for the second successive season, his Leicester side are battling to hold on to a Champions League spot. For the second successive year, results are beginning to turn on the home straight.

For Maddison, too, the timing could hardly have been worse. The midfielder's injury-interrupted season had already seen him lose ground in the race for a place in England's European Championship squad. This could prove the final nail in his coffin. You wonder how his mum will react to this misstep?

Rodgers, for his part, said he was 'bitterly disappointed'. Leicester were similarly forthright. 'We wholly expect our people to behave in a way that reflects the national effort and the sacrifices made by our communities to control the spread of the virus. Those involved have apologised for their poor judgement.'

Rodgers insists Maddison and Co have now paid for their mistake and they are back in contention for this weekend's FA Cup semi-final against Southampton.

'I won't hold it against them,' the manager said.

Others may not be so forgiving. Southgate and his coaching staff already face a difficult task whittling this exciting generation down to just 23 for this summer's tournament.

Maddison's chances seemed slim even before this error of judgement - he has not featured for England since that solitary 34-minute cameo against Montenegro in November 2019.

Several niggling injuries haven't helped his cause since then. Nor has the development of Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka, Mason Mount, Jude Bellingham, Jack Grealish and the resurgence of Jesse Lingard.

But last November, Maddison admitted he was disappointed to have been left out of the England fold. And you can understand why.

Even this season, when he has missed seven Premier League games, Barnes (9) is the only English midfielder with more goals than his eight. Only Grealish has created more (10) than Maddison. The problem now, of course, is that the 24-year-old has given the England coaches an easy excuse to look elsewhere.

People will no doubt ask: If he can't stay out of trouble for a vital Premier League run-in, how can he be trusted during a major tournament?

'It is always about discipline,' Rodgers said. 'To be a winner and to compete at the top end of this table, you have to act like a winner and that winning mentality is a certain level of behaviour and a mindset.'

All very true. But let's not forget: Maddison is still only 24. He made a mistake, yes, a bad one at that. And as a supremely driven player, he will know that better than anyone.

But he is not alone. Both Grealish and Foden have fallen foul of coronavirus regulations over the past year. Both faced a storm of criticism, both have repaid the damage, both will surely be in England's 23.

That suggests the door will not be shut on Maddison and his silky feet. But given he only recently returned from injury, this was particularly damaging for his chances of turning Southgate's head.

'I know I’m good enough and more than capable, I just want that opportunity to go and show what I can do on that international stage,' Maddison said back in February.

'I want it all about me... I want everyone questioning me and talking about me.'

Well he's certainly managed that. Unfortunately for Maddison, this has probably sealed his spot on the sofa for this summer's Euros, too.

So he will have to sit back and watch - red-faced and perhaps with a sore ear, too.


Original Story on: GhanaSoccernet

Scroll to Top