James Maddison says stunning rise to England squad stems from Scotland stint

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James Maddison entered his first senior England camp with a fearless attitude honed during a four-month loan spell in Scotland two years ago.

The 21-year-old was called up by Gareth Southgate for the Nations League double-header against Croatia and Spain after an impressive start to Premier League life at Leicester.

An attacking midfielder, Maddison earned his move to the King Power Stadium through some fine form in the second-tier at Norwich last year.

But it was a short stint with Aberdeen which the player credits with setting him up for life at the top of the game. A last-minute winner against Rangers and a Scottish League Cup final defeat to Celtic bookended his time at Pittodrie.

James Maddison, left, during his Aberdeen days
James Maddison, left, during his Aberdeen days (Craig Watson/PA)

“I mean I was an 18-year-old lad playing in a Scottish League Cup final at Hampden in front of 60,000 against Celtic and that’s an experience I will never forget.

“Coming out to a big firework display and the fans were in full voice because they (Celtic) won 3-0. That’s an experience I wouldn’t have got by staying in England in the lower leagues.

“I was not getting a sniff (at Norwich) so I went to see Alex Neil, the manager at the time, and asked if I could go on loan and have a good pre-season.

Alex Neil allowed James Maddison to go out on loan to Scotland
Alex Neil allowed James Maddison to go out on loan to Scotland (Chris Radburn/PA)

“It was my choice to go there but I think it will toughen you up, if you went to League One it would toughen you up and I don’t think Scotland is just the place for that.

“It did toughen me up because I took a lot of kicks, a lot of knocks, had a few little scraps with big Scottish guys on the pitch, I learnt a lot, toughened up, went back to Norwich and the following season I had a really good season and got a move to the Premier League.”

A return to Norwich saw Maddison evolve into a key figure for the Canaries last season as he finished the campaign as the club’s top scorer having notched 14 times.

The 21-year-old has had a fine start to the season with Leicester
The 21-year-old has had a fine start to the season with Leicester (Nigel French/PA)

“I went into pre-season with the mindset of ‘be fearless, go and show everyone what you can do’,” Maddison added.

“Just because it’s the Premier League, if I started trying to play the simple pass instead of trying the harder pass that is not the type of person I am to be honest.

“You have to come here (to England) and be yourself. If you come here and act like the new kid or the young lad then I don’t think it will work. Gareth said to me ‘go and show what you are about and why you are here’.”

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