James Maddison says it is time to add medals to plaudits and fire England Under-21s to Euros glory
JAMES MADDISON has won plenty of plaudits this season — now he thinks it is about time he won a medal.
The Leicester ace is looking to cap his fantastic debut campaign in the Premier League by firing the England Under-21s to Euros glory in Italy.
Aidy Boothroyd’s Young Lions face France in their Group C opener in Cesena on Tuesday night – and Maddison said: “I am desperate to go and win. I want to be a winner.
“At the end of your career you look back and think, OK, a few Man of the Matches here, a Player of the Season there, but football’s a team game.”
While Lions pal Phil Foden’s trophy cabinet in his mum’s kitchen is bursting with silverware, Maddison’s is more like Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard.
Foxes playmaker Maddison, 22, added: “The other lads have had success in tournaments but my trophy cabinet is empty at the minute.
“I have a few individual ones in there but there are no winners’ medals.
“It is not tennis and golf — for you only — it is a team game and I want winners’ medals at the end of that.”
Hopefully England fans will be watching this back home thinking, this is the future of the England team
Maddison on the Under-21 Euros
Maddison is like a kid in a sweet shop as he speaks in the foyer of the Young Lions squad’s plush hotel.
He said: “I am so excited! I have been looking forward to this for ages. I have never actually played an international tournament before.
“People ask me what I think about not getting called to the seniors… well I don’t care.
“When I put that badge on I want to go and win this tournament, and the lads feel that as a group.
“All our families are out here and it’s the feel of it. The media are here, the locals are welcoming us in training. It is such a big stage to express what talent we have.
“Hopefully England fans will be watching this back home thinking, this is the future of the England team.”
England could not have a tougher start as France are one of the favourites to lift the trophy, alongside the Young Lions, hosts Italy and Germany.
Like Boothroyd’s boys, Les Bleus were unbeaten in qualifying – and Maddison said: “France are a brilliant team. We’ve done our homework as much as we can.
“We have done their strengths and weaknesses, as we will with all our opponents, but they are a very strong outfit.
“We will have to be at our best but that does not take away the fact that we have got a brilliant team, too, full of talent and full of character.”
But with only the three group winners guaranteed a place in the semi-finals — the other spot going to the best runner-up — there is no room for error.
Maddison added: “The format changes things. You can’t come second and be sure you will go through.
There is a good feel about the camp. I am confident we can beat France and do well in the next two.
Maddison on the Euros group stage
“We know we have a good squad, good players, regulars in the Premier League, but that doesn’t mean anything in tournament football.
“You lose a game and you are in jeopardy, in a bad position, at risk.
“We can’t let that happen. We have worked so hard to get to this stage. It can’t go out of the window now.
“The format means we have to be better than France — there is a good feel about the camp. I am confident we can beat France and do well in the next two.”
Confidence is one thing Maddison does not lack. He has self-esteem in abundance.
It is a quality which does not always sit well with the stiff upper-lipped English.
But, my goodness, after 20 minutes in a room with him you come out thinking we could win Eurovision — never mind Euro 2019.
He said: “I don’t want to sit here and blow my own trumpet but I’ve always been a very confident lad — I’ve always backed myself.
“I always say ‘No one is going to believe in me for me’, so you have to believe in yourself first and foremost for anyone else to believe in me.
“There might be times where you question yourself ‘Am I good enough for this level?’ But just back yourself.
“As an 18-year-old at Coventry, when I had played about 12 League One games, I went in and asked the boss Tony Mowbray for the No10 shirt.
“He didn’t expect that but he gave it to me and put that trust in me. I have always had that kind of confidence and character.”