'He wasn't treating me like a kid' - Maddison so grateful to City fans and Farke for their faith
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Trust was the key to James Maddison's rise to success under Daniel Farke at Norwich City, the Premier League new boy has revealed.
Trust was the key to James Maddison’s rise to success under Daniel Farke at Norwich City, the Premier League new boy has revealed.
The playmaker was back in Norfolk this week as the England Under-21s continued European Championship qualification, playing 76 minutes of a 0-0 draw with the Netherlands.
While that draw kept Aidy Boothroyd’s team on course for qualification for next summer’s finals, for many it was a chance to see the reigning City player of the season in action again.
It was a fourth cap for the Young Lions as the 21-year-old’s rapid rise in the game shows little sign of slowing, immediately nailing down a starting place for Leicester in the top flight after a summer switch worth in excess of £20million to Norwich.
That club-record sale came despite a final-day injury scare last season which saw Maddison limp off during a 5-1 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday – leaving the talented youngster’s expected big-money move in the balance.
Fortunately, however, City’s star man overcame the knee ligament injury in time to start pre-season with Leicester, after a wonderful campaign of 15 goals and 11 assists made him the hottest property in the Championship.
It all happened very quickly though, less than two years since he was sent on loan to Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen.
Maddison was signed during Alex Neil’s time in charge after emerging at Coventry City, earning a move worth around £2.5m in January 2016. After seeing out that season with the Sky Blues, Maddison joined Aberdeen for the first half of 2016-17.
He grabbed his chance with both hands, scoring twice and setting up another seven goals during 14 league games with the Dons, before opting to come back to Norwich and push for a place in Neil’s team.
That chance did not come until Alan Irvine was in temporary charge, scoring in a 3-1 win at Preston in April 2017 as three substitute appearances gave him a taste of the Championship.
It was at that point Farke arrived, with sporting director Stuart Webber tying Maddison to a new long-term contract – but neither could have expected his season to have gone so brilliantly.
“He just trusts you, if you’re doing well enough he treats you like an established senior player,” Maddison said of Farke. “I was doing well in pre-season, he wasn’t treating me like a kid and helping me learn more than the rest, he just treated me like a first team player and played me.
“He was trying to keep me grounded because that’s what managers have to do. I didn’t think I needed to because I was quite grounded anyway. But just his man management to keep me going because the Championship is a 46-game season and it’s tough, it can be quite tiring, especially if you don’t get the international breaks to rest.
“He kept me going, my confidence was high and training was always good. I had a good season so I’m very grateful.”
That breakthrough season went so well that there was a feeling of inevitability about Maddison’s summer exit, after months of being linked with big clubs including Liverpool and Spurs.
And the man himself couldn’t believe how supportive Canaries fans were as he moved on.
“It’s an unexplainable feeling,” he continued. “Normally when somebody leaves the club, I’ve never experienced it like that before, it was almost as if the Norwich fans were happy for me to get the opportunity to play in the Premier League – and I’m grateful for that.
“The process of me moving to Leicester was so smooth, with the fans, the club, the manager, Stuart because they understood that I wanted to go and test myself in the best league in the world.
“I felt like I deserved that opportunity and I felt like they were really happy for me, so I’m really grateful for that.”
The England U21 ace knows he is still in the early stages of his Premier League and international career – but also knows full well that without Farke’s trust he would not have the opportunities to reach the pinnacle of the game which are opening up to him.
“I’ve always believed in myself, I’ve been a confident lad since I was a young boy, I always believed I was going to get there, you just don’t think it’s going to happen this quickly,” he concluded.
“Daniel Farke gave me the opportunity last season and I always speak so highly of the boss here because he believed in me and trusted me, and just chucked me in at Fulham away in the first game of last season.
“I haven’t looked back since so I’m truly grateful for that.”